Gwent Community Patch March 2024 – Review

Introduction

In this article I’d review Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Community Patch March 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 discussion of balance changes on Reddit.

Before Patch

Main decks I’ve faced on high ladder:

MO | Renfri Koshchey, (Arachas Swarm Tatterwing)
NG | Renfri Soldiers, Double Madoc, (Aristocrats, Enslave)
NR | Inspired Zeal Demavend, (Melitele, Renfri Priestess)
SK | Patricidal Fury Warriors, Self-wound, (Renfri Rain)
ST | Precision Strike Renfri, Symbiosis
SY | Yago Jackpot

Meta was varied and decently balanced. NR and SY seemed like strongest factions to me overall, although my best score was ~2661 with Renfri Koshchey; my only 2600+ this time. 

I forgot to make final profile printscreen, so here is the score before last push.

Balance Council Results

Nerf Brackets

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

-1 Power

Madam Marquise Serenity (4 -> 3)

Madam keeps paying taxes for hers design flaws (+)


Lara Dorren (6 -> 5)

A filler nerf/buff. Makes (unplayed) Lara+Sabbath combo less convenient (-)


Captain Yago (7 -> 6)

Deserved nerf – need to decouple Jackpot from Yago as main payoff (+)


Regis: Bloodlust (18 -> 17)

I haven’t seen much Regis:Bloodlust recently; perhaps this nerf wasn’t necessary. Regis provides some (maybe dull) options to Monsters/Northern Realms, which is good for variety. (/)


Rainfarn of Attre (6 -> 5)

Okay (/)

Rosa and Edna var Attre (7 -> 6)

Aristocrats got more nerfs than deserved in my opinion. Just like Philippe, Rosa and Edna has huge ceiling, but low floor for meta golds standards (-).

Coën (3 -> 2)

Genius change, makes Coen higher ceiling and more suitable for swarm decks. (++)

Roderick of Dun Tynne (2 -> 1)

Okay (/)

Nauzicaa Sergeant (4 -> 3)

I’m not going to comment this change again. With the current bronze powercreep (Dimun Smuggler…), 4 power variant seems more and more justified. (/)

Scapegoat (2 -> 1)

Nerf avoiding. Scapegoat will now die to a single Confession Extractor. On the other hand, Scapegoat becomes worse in Tatterwing SY and fuels Ignatius Hale slower. (-)

Iluxa (BigKukuruzina) climb with Yago Jackpot Syndicate netdeck in the February Season

+1 Provision

👑 Mahakam Forge (16 -> 17)

I advocated this change two seasons ago in Gwent Pro Ladder Report – October Season – Meta, Decks & Experience | leriohub.com, but then Forge Constructs deck became very successful for me (Gwent Community Patch 11.11 Review – The Empire Strikes Back! | leriohub.com), so Mahakam Forge provision buff was dropped from my to-do list. 

After double nerfs to Frenzied Dao and Dennis Cranmer, surely Constructs/Pure Dwarfs wouldn’t be stronger than before, so Forge provision buff makes at least technical sense. Maybe also Golden Nekker Spella’tael Pendant, but with the recently buffed Sorceress of Dol Blathanna would be interesting? (+)


👑 Hidden Cache (15 -> 16)

In spite of hoard cards Saul de Navarette and Hvitr and Aelydia being played in Jackpot netdeck in February 2024, Hidden Cache saw little play and got a provision buff.

A bit compensating for Hvitr nerf and going in line with Passiflora provision buff. That being said, I’m not a fan of current HC playstyle, which is often tempo pass from blue coin and greedy engine overload. (-)


👑 Off the Books (14 -> 15)

Off The Books is probably the most ‘midrange’ and ‘pointslam’ out of all Syndicate leader abilities. Due to these reasons and good synergy with Vice/Midrange Firesworn, OtB felt internally balanced in SY at 164 cap in 2023.

I don’t think this change will hurt in practice yet, but in the long term doesn’t seem right; apparently by boosting Syndicate leaders other than Jackpot we try to provide more variety. (/)


👑 Pirate’s Cove (14 -> 15)

Pirate’s Cove is the leader of choice in Gangs archetype, but also may support decks generating loads of coins which lack spenders and consistency. It could provide a consistent alternative to King Of Beggars decks by securing spender for short rounds. (+)


Temple of Melitele: Congregation (14 -> 15)

Released as 12-cost, Temple Of Melitele becomes the only 15-cost card now. ToM catched no official nerfs because NR decks which included it didn’t have a distinctive winrate at the time.

While one could argue if this nerf is legit balancewise, making NR search for other pointslam cores is surely a good direction (+)

Magic Compass (10 -> 11)

Embrace your power Russian Lords, Magic Compass is safe from buff at 10 provision cost, no need to push it to 11 (-). 


Ihuarraquax (10 -> 11)

A nerf meant to remove one tool from circus employees arsenal. All that being said, after power nerf to Dana I’ve seen almost no Quax players on ladder. I’m not a fan of this change, it could have been used for example to nerf card like King Demavend. (-)


Tainted Ale (9 -> 10)

Removing Tainted Ale from one turn combo range in Golden Nekker armor abuse Pirates. While this change makes the card way too expensive for normal decks, it feels reasonable for practical reasons. Every week we see a hand recorded horror movie of Protectors + Tainted Ale ‘game breaking’ combo on Reddit (+).  

Philippe van Moorlehem (8 -> 9)

Philippe may win long rounds alone if unanswered and supported with statuses – that’s probably the reasoning behind the provision increase. That being said, Philippe has a pretty low floor and is relatively easy to answer compared with other meta cards. Aristocrats weren’t overpowered in the preceding season even with Dame at 5 cost. Dame revert was very likely to happen and this change feels as an overkill to thematic Aristocrats archetype, which was already short in provisions. (-)


Thirsty Dame (5 -> 6)

More cost to greedy engine in Statuses NG (/)

Buff Brackets

+1 Power

Shani (5 -> 6)

Buff directed at Alumni. 6 power Shani would likely be played in any other faction (/)

Vesemir: Mentor (4 -> 5)

Witchers buffs go on (/)

Alumni (4 -> 5)

At least not Students. What else to buff with strong impact but no toxicity in Alumni? (/)

Griffin Witcher (4 -> 5)

Buff not only to Witchers, but also casual bronze engine NR decks, where only downside is row lock, making it harder to abuse Mutagenerator in R1. (/)

Havfrue Singer (4 -> 5)

Huge buff. Every power buff to engines in SK have to be done with cheap Freya’s Blessing in mind. Havfrue Singer now is balanced only by row space and lack of efficient bronze heal targets (/)

Witch Hunter Executioner (4 -> 5)

Scary buff. Executioner is a card capable of seizing board initiative – placing it at 5 power makes it harder to counterplay Bounty. It is possible that not only Classical/Nekker Bounty decks would consider Executioner at this point, because 7 for 5 spender with upsides is just decent in current Syndicate. (-)

Dimun Pirate (8 -> 9)

Dium Pirate would play on the curve now. Also an indirect buff to unplayed bronze Dimun Warship (which likely still would be unplayed). Good body for Triss: Meteor Shower (/)

Dimun Smuggler (3 -> 4)

Huge, +2 points buff if only a Ship is controlled. Dimun Smuggler would now play ~1 point above the curve, with 10 points tempo. That’s too much in my opinion (-). 

Griffin Witcher Adept (4 -> 5)

Huge, impactful buff to this engine. Adept itself and each transform is worth 1 point more; transforming 4s becomes profitable. Also Adept will now work better with Coen. (/) 

Poor Fucking Infantry (3 -> 4)

Power buff to bonded units is always worth more than just 1, given that payoff is decent. It makes whole strategies based on bonded units more reliable. First PFI with 3 power was too easy to remove. Good change (+).

-1 Provsion

👑 Inspired Zeal (15 -> 14)

Understandable balance change – Zeal Demavend Temple was one of the top meta decks in Feb (/).


One Night at the Passiflora (14 -> 13)

Deserved, Passiflora seen no play. Yet Passiflora doesn’t feel exciting to me after Madam omnipresence – it is similar gameplay style (/)


Amphibious Assault (13 -> 12)

With Revenants power buff in the first balance council and AA prov buff, the card was already playable. It was used in Stockpile Siege, where Warfare category also mattered. I think AA was in okay spot at 13 cost and naturally kept getting improved with bronze buffs (9 power Rev with +5 per turn potential is decent, especially when played twice; so is 17 points Temerian Infrantry). Unnecessary, promotes mainstream bronze engine overload ways in my opinion (-)


Keldar (9 -> 8)

Balancewise definitely not the Witcher who deserved a buff most – played in Golden Nekker Shieldwall. That being said, impact matters (/)


John Natalis (8 -> 7)

Okay, but Avallach: Sage first… (/)


Raiding Fleet (7 -> 6)

Card was okay value at 7 cost – (~10 points and 1 thinning), only a bit below power vs provision curve. Now it becomes a payoff card for running Ships, which currently is Pirates exclusive. I like this change a lot – both thematic and improving consistency (+)


Botchling (7 -> 6)

Deserved, but no impact (/)


Selective Mutation (6 -> 5)

Deserved and supporting Witchers on. Even going on with (5=>4) is justified in my opinion (+).


Runeword (6 -> 5)

Unplayed at 6 cost because of too high variance. At 5 cost could be troublesome; highrolls could be game decisive while cost is very low. 

Runeword may lore-friendly be combined with Runemage to get better rolls. Both cards also have huge synergy with Cintrian Spellweaver. Also Idarran may be used to copy a card spawned from Runeword. Fresh air with question marks floating (/)


Abordage (6 -> 5)

Abordage was too expensive to be included in the mainstream Pirate decks. At 5 cost and with some buffs to Pirate bronzes, this card would be strong now. Moreover, it could be combined with Highland Warlords and that’s the most scary part – Patricidal Fury Warriors may start to run Abordage with An Craite Raiders (/)

Summary

  • Monsters

Not a single meaningful change. 

  • Nilfgaard

Aristocrats overnerf (Dame +1c; Rosa&Edna and Philippe -1p).

Sergeant revert to 3 power.

  • Northern Realms

Great number of buffs; NR took 50%+ of both buff brackets.

Witchers (Griffin Adepts +1p, Keldar -1c, Coen -1p, Selective Mutation -1c, Vesemir: Mentor +1 power, Griffin Witcher +1p)

Alumni (Alumni +1p, Amphibious Assault -1c, Runeword -1c, Shani +1p)

As a side effect, Stockpile also got a couple of buffs (Griffin Witcher +1p, Jan Natalis -1c, AA -1c).

Botchling (-1c) and Poor Fucking Infantry (+1p) are nice buffs, but lack support in other cards.

-1 prov cap to Inspired Zeal and +1c to Temple of Melitele wouldn’t change the fact that NR got massive buffs in this patch; just Zeal Demavend netdeck got weaker compared with other options.

  • Scoia’tael

Just like Monsters, abandoned. Only Mahakam Forge got +1 provision cap buff.

  • Skellige

Abordage -1c and Dimun Pirate Captain +1p are the most impactful SK buffs in my opinion. Pirates got some love, but focused mostly on bronzes and supporting cards. 

Raids Warriors have more stable high-end and may become even better host for Abordage.

  • Syndicate

A couple of nerfs to Jackpot Yago netdeck. Witch Hunter Executioner +1 power would make matchups good for Bounty even better. Hidden Cache, Off The Books and Pirate’s Cove +1 prov cap. 

Syndicate got little interesting to play with but for exploration of old Tier2/3 decks with +1 provision.

  • Overall

The patch is heavily focused on bringing Alumni and NR Witchers up to meta level by multiple, simultaneous buffs. Pirates also got some love by significant buffs to bronze cards. That being said, Pirates high end got no improvements, which may mean that the meta variant of Pirates will end up using expensive non-thematic cards.

While NR is flourishing and SK could experiment with Abordage, the rest of the factions have no real novelties to play with.

I’d suggest to spread the attention between different factions, so that at least one archetype / card per one faction gets buffed in each patch.

Closure

Hope you had a good read! This is probably the last written form balance council review which I’ve done.

See you on ladder and Community Open on 16 March!