Gwent Community Patch June 2024 – Review

Introduction

In this article I’d review Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Community Patch June 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.

Check out the discussion of balance changes on Reddit and for the influencers suggestions before patch check out Vote Map by A_Reveur here.

Before Patch

Check out my sketch of the Gwent meta state before the patch in 8th Gwent Balance Council (May 2024) Meta, Buffs & Nerfs Ideas

Balance Council Results

Nerf Brackets

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

-1 Power Decreased

Renfri (5 -> 4)

(/) Ping-pong intensifies. We can either power nerf cards like Renfri, or use gimmicks nerfs (Lving Armor…) all along. The first method is more natural and suitable in my opinion right now.


King Demavend III (6 -> 5)

(+) Good change, Demavend as a finisher becomes a bit less oppressive and as tutor/threat a bit easier to control. This card in Inspired Zeal is still clearly superior to any casual tutor and has 30+ points ceiling when unanswered.

Sove (11 -> 10)

(/) I advocated Sove power nerf in order to buff Patricidal Fury prov cap in the past, but at this point Sove doesn’t feel this strong or essential for Warriors (check out Kerpeten’s 2600+ BoG Warriors from April Season). Therefore this change wouldn’t mitigate Warriors overall in any meaningful way. Anyway, it’s not a bad change for power nerf bracket.


Living Armor (10 -> 9)

(/) A gimmick vote to avoid overnerfs in the most troublesome bracket. Arguably not the moment to go this way yet. We need to use this bracket to carefully and uniformly bring down some cards which are on the top of the power vs provision curve. Whatever cards are touched first it is always controversial – for example Renfri got immediate revert and Simlas power nerfs suggestions also are always opposed by a part of playerbase.

 

Leticia Charbonneau (6 -> 5)

(+) Okay nerf in the context of Shieldwall Alumni being popular and unpleasant to face for a good part of the playerbase. Leticia is not this essential, rather a kind of greed overlay on Students.


Shady Vendor (4 -> 3)

(/) A simple man approach to Vendor into Open, Sesame! / Pulling The Strings issue. I don’t regard Shady Vendor as this troublesome (at 3 power it just becomes bad outside mentioned rolls and King Of Beggars supply), but at least this nerf has some underlying logic. 


Dimun Pirate (9 -> 8)

(- -) Very unnecessary, this card gets back into the underground. At 9 power it was okay and felt rather balanced.


Damned Sorceress (5 -> 4)

(-) Balance Councils are weird – we tend to buff greedy engines out of removal range and nerf engines we struggle to kill into this range. Sorceress + Immortals combo was regarded as too stable and efficient source of points, especially after Knight Errant power buff.  I’d place the nerf on Immortals instead, Sorceress alone doesn’t feel this strong.


Whisperer of Dol Blathanna (4 -> 3)

(-) Too fast revert in my opinion; WoDB +4 per turn value is absurd, but didn’t proven this problematic so far in competitive. The best abuses probably weren’t found yet.


Van Moorlehem Servant (4 -> 3)

(-) This card sometimes is good and flashy in Aristocrats NG, but hardly enough on average to justify a nerf in my opinion.

+1 Provision Increased

👑 Tactical Decision (15 -> 16)

(/) Tactical Decision itself wasn’t in a bad spot (NG leaders article) with possible 15 points + handfix value, but other NG leaders were a bit better thanks to more synergies and long round value. This buff is supposed to incentivize more use of TD in decks like Hyperthin or Renfi Midrange.


👑 Invigorate (15 -> 16)

(+) Incentivizing more use of Invigorate is even more welcomed by me than in the case of Tactical Decision, because Precision Strike was clearly superior Renfri variant and Handbuff decks seen little play in general. This change alone would have very little impact probably.


King of Beggars (12 -> 13)

(+) Good change, King of Beggars shouldn’t be autoinclude in every non-Nekker Syndicate deck.


Magic Compass (11 -> 12)

(/) No reason for this nerf in my opinion; Compass was played in Pirates netdecks, but not outstanding value. One could argue Compass is just a cheaper Pirates Scenario, but it comes with some deck building restrictions. Also when we don’t manage to thin early enough, the value of Compass into Scenario is much lower. Still not the end of the world, Compass still would see play, which couldn’t be said about all nerf targets…


Ffion var Gaernel (9 -> 10)

(+) Ffion gets same treatment as Cave Troll and Donimir. Perfectly justified as protecting Cultists scenario, or Ffion+Renew in Rot Tossers deck were common use.


Slave Driver (5 -> 6)

(+) Soldiers weren’t meta pick in tournaments or at high mmrs in May, but still Slave Drivers were played in Spotters spam or Knife Jugglers spam at lower mmrs. Okay change, should alleviate problems with too provision-cost efficient plays in the future.


Dimun Smuggler (5 -> 6)

(+) While Pirates weren’t as strong as popular in my opinion, they deserved a small nerf and this one seems most reasonable; high tempo from Smuggler becomes more expensive.


Teleportation (4 -> 5)

(-) Designed as a nerf to decks like Rot Tossers spam or Melitele, this change limits creativity in the deckbulider; in my opinion specific cards from those archetypes should have been addressed instead. Moreover, Teleportation would now get into Gerhart 5-cost spells pool.

Combat Engineer (4 -> 5)

(/) Specific nerf to Rot Tossers spam netdeck. This deck is too abusive especially from red-coin, where Philter + Rot Tosser give ‘infinite’ reach. Understandable.

Bare-Knuckle Brawler (4 -> 5)

(+) B-K B annihilating the board in Lined Pockets / Off The Books decks felt indeed unhealthy; even when we run enough control to deal with a single one, another could be rolled from Eventide Plunder and decks relying on engine-by-engine play suddenly can’t stick a single card. At 5-cost B-K B is clearly underwhelming in raw points and may make Syndicate go for Cove Gangs even more in the June season (in the context of the whole June patch though Cove may suffer from Warrior buffs). B-K B can take a power buff as a follow up.

Buff Brackets

+1 Power Increased

Saskia: Commander (4 -> 5)

(- -) A card single-handedly winning rounds with little possible interaction? Let’s buff it! In general, taking cards lying on power vs provision curve and placing them above to get immediate impact is a bad approach.


Affan Hillergrand (3 -> 4)

(+) Justifed buff; we likely just end up with R3 Roach with small upsides in Soldiers decks (compare this card with King Of Beggars btw). But hopefully it would also incentivize experiments with thematic decks where Affan is a long round armored swarm payoff card.


Skjordal Drummond (3 -> 4)

(-) Skjordal wasn’t played, but wasn’t terrible either. Now it would feel OP – Skjordal would start at 5 power in Round 1 in Bran decks; compare him with Enraged Ifrit. Moreover if used early then could be revived with Fucusya in R3. In the next councils we have both revert and provision cost increase paths open.


Herkja Drummond (4 -> 5)

(+) Okay change, going in line with Ulula buff from previous councils; we need new Warrior strategies not relying on Raids.


Eveline Gallo (5 -> 6)

(/) I’m generally not a fan of power buffing so strong engines, but maybe it would incentivize more creative deckbuilding. Eveline becomes an even more reliable powerhorse for Round 1. 


Nauzicaa Sergeant (3 -> 4)

(/) Here we go again – now we would see how Slave Driver at 6 cost and Sergeant at 10 power would feel in practice. At 3 power Sergeant is too weak, at 4 is solid and dull.


Ard Feainn Crossbowman (3 -> 4)

(-) Inferior to Ard Feiann Light Cavalry in the Imperial Formation Soldiers deckbuilder, but not directly and not really bad in Soldiers decks at all. At 4 power would be an autoinclude and definer in Soldiers. 6 points entrance, need for 5 power removal, damage capabilities… too good and oppressive to face. Luckily Slave Driver catched provision nerf, so that annihilating the board with Crossbowman legion wouldn’t be this provision efficient.


Drummond Shieldmaiden (4 -> 5)

(+) I like this direction less than -1 provision because of huge buff to Cerys Lippy tempo/carryover/finisher strategy, but still deserved.

Desert Banshee (4 -> 5)

(+) Okay buff to this card, unfortunately mainly to Viy. After double buff I predict Haunt to become the main option for the Deathwish netdeck.


Dryad Fledgling (5 -> 6)

(- -) 5 power was a good spot and Fledgling was okay 4-cost bronze engine for Harmony. 6 power is too much standalone, let alone Water of Brokilon. These become 12 tempo, +2 per turn engine virtually impossible to control or trade up against. WoB becomes so good that it is just an proactive autoinclude in every midrange Scoia’tael with 2+ tags.

-1 Provsion Decreased

👑 Onslaught (16 -> 15)

(- -) Onslaught as a leader ability has so few raw points that it was completely fine at +16 cap in my opinion (SK Leaders article). Unnecessary overnerf.


Haunt (14 -> 13)

(/) Reasonable change, Haunt wasn’t played in the mainstream Deathwish decks where it belongs. Even more buff to Viy though, where spare provisions could mean extra tutor and ~+30 points to deck potential output.


Baccalà (13 -> 12)

(/) Not necessary in my opinion, Baccala is just a good card with Calveit; flexible 4 points on location order, 9 initial tempo and at least +2 per turn engine threat; not every good card has to be brought to top. But fine.


War Council (12 -> 11)

(/) This card was played for example in Enemy Boost netdeck. Even more unnecessary than Baccala in my opinion, but still not end of the world. I’m not a fan of location cards with order carryover; at some point such decks may start to win R3 with a card down – remember Double Madoc Nilfgaard. Also bleeding such decks is no joy (Beauclair Enemy Boost)


Water of Brokilon (10 -> 9)

(+) This card couldn’t find its place in main Harmony netdecks (i played it though in my wholesome Harmony on stream with okay results). It wasn’t bad, but buff is okay, opens also some possibilities for Golden Nekker Harmony builds.


Sweers (8 -> 7)

(/) Buff is justified, but card is rather rigid and uninteresting in my opinion. It has good synergy with damage Soldiers, especially Ard Feiann Crossbowman which gets buffed this patch; it is at least worth trying now in such builds.


Vabjorn (8 -> 7)

(/) Symmetry buff to one of the most played 8-cost tutors. Fine.

War of Clans (6 -> 5)

(-) Outside of other buffs done in this patch, this change alone is effectively a revert to Highland Warlord nerf – same netdeck becomes back prevalent but maybe some opportunity for non-Warlord decks arises as well. As people’s sentiment independently let to Warlords revert, we land in a serious mess with Warriors probably overshadowing other Skellige archetypes more than Pirates did in May.


Ronvid the Incessant (6 -> 5)

(/) Ronvid as a carryover card and support for Revenants and other NR cards is still underexplored, so I welcome this change, even if it wasn’t the greatest priority (Ronvid wasn’t this weak already with Revenants at 4 power).


Highland Warlord (6 -> 5)

(-) Taken alone this revert is reasonable from the balance standpoint; Warriors were in line or below other Skellige decks in competitive Gwent. Yet immediate reverts should be avoided in my opinion, because they come from a reason – Raids felt oppressive for a part of the playerbase; reverting it next patch would prolly have been a better idea. Also with strong Raids there would never be space for other Warriors decks, especially with the recently buffed Ulula.

Taken together with buffs to Warriors – absolute disaster which would likely lead to pendulum overnerfs in the June balance council.

Summary

Votes attribution by Matol
  • CH – China Coalition (10/15)
  • D – MetallicDanny (12/16)
  • N – Necrotal + P_Star (12/12)
  • S – Shinmiri (6/12)
  1. This patch we witnessed a trend of buffing decent cards from playable archetypes in order to guarantee them in high tier ladder meta (Saskia: Commander, War of Clans, Fledgling+Water, Haunt+Desert Banshee). I think such approach is deeply wrong and forces next councils to either powercreep other good cards from playable but not Tier 1 archetypes, or go for immediate reverts. The first option is especially disastrous, leading to balance amongst few overpowered archetypes as played in the netdecks from the past and no space for anything else. 
  2. The overbuff to Harmony was all along suggested by MetallicDanny, while Necrotal + P_Star are responsible for most of the Warriors overbuff (Highland Warlord revert only doubled down on their suggestions).
  3. All other buffs are overshadowed by these changes; meta will be rebuilt out of specific decks not autolosing to Warriors/Harmony.
  4. Zero surprise for me, Pirates got overnerfed and from ‘Tier 2 but popular af’ are in hopeless Tier 3 state right now, basically being Warriors without points.

What To Try?

  • Monsters | Deathwish with Haunt (more consumes, more points), Viy (…)
  • Nilfgaard | Soldiers with Crossbowman. I missed playing against Battle Stations first move, Aerondight stacking and locations carryover R2; see that voters shared my sentiment. 
  • Northern Realms | Revenants with Ronvid
  • Skellige | BoG Warriors, BoG Warriors, BoG Warriors, Ursine Ritual Cerys Lippy with Triss Meteor Shower.
  • Scoiatael | Whatever with Waters and preferably Saskia:Commander, maybe Harmony
  • Syndicate | Hey, Eveline doesn’t die to Skjordal in R1!

Closure

Thanks for reading! This balance council overall nerf brackets seemed more reasonable than buffs, out of which little are subtle (Herkja and Affan are grateful exceptions) and interesting.

June is offseason in the Community Masters when it comes to Crown Points, but next weekend we have Top4 Qualifier for the Gwent Community Challenger! Also check out my streams on Twitch – offseason is a great time to play real man decks, like Falibor Ale Knights!