Gwent Community Patch May 2024 – Review

Introduction

In this article I’d review Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Community Patch May 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 and its origins (collection of influencers suggestions) here.

Before Patch

Main decks I’ve faced on high ladder:

MO | Arachas Swarm Tatterwing, Vampoids Nekker, (White Frost) 
NG | Enslave/Imprisonment Assimilate, Hospitality Beauclair, Imprisonment Cultists
NR | Melitele, Shieldwall Alumni, (Zeal Demavend Temple, Knights)
SK | Onslaught Pirates Compass, Patricidal Fury Warriors, (Self-wound)
ST | Nature’s Gift Symbiosis
SY | Pirate’s Cove, Off The Books Vice

Meta was varied, with Pirate’s Cove Gangs being the top deck in my opinion. Nature’s Gift Symbiosis was very popular and easy to play. It had huge pointslam output, scary especially from red coin. The buff of Frog Mating Season to 7 provision enabled easier Filavandrel into FMS which in terms of points could be called a second Simlas in the deck. 

My final scores in Gwent April Season 2024

Towards the end of the season more greedy decks appeared at ladder, trying to prey on Symbiosis / Pirate’s Cove lack of hard removal. 

Balance Council Results

Nerf Brackets

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

-1 Power

Kraken (5 -> 4)

(-) Last step before tragedy. 


King Radovid V (6 -> 5)

(+) Making Radovid easier to remove and harder to abuse with Decoy in Melitele.


Rainfarn of Attre (5 -> 4)

(/) Last buff to make to this card.


Joachim de Wett (3 -> 2)

(–) Nonsense, Joachim is a meta card already in Aristocrats and Rot Tossers abuse. It is often used to protect big threats, which is especially unhealthy from the gameplay standpoint.


Artorius Vigo (3 -> 2)

(+) Coming down at 5 power with Nauzicaa Sergeant was too much for this Assimilate engine.


Nauzicaa Sergeant (4 -> 3)

(-) If any of the two deserves nerf right now, it would be Slave Driver.


Temerian Infantry (3 -> 2)

(+) Temerian Infantry abused with Casting Contest is not the most intellectually fruitful accident which happened to Gwent meta, so I like this nerf.


Imperial Practitioner (5 -> 4)

(-) I don’t understand. Practitioners spam may be annoying, but they were meme level.

 

Naiad Pondkeeper (5 -> 4)

(-) Pondkeeper is a payoff card for Aucwenn and one of few control tools Symbiosis could make use of. It was good, coming on the board as 7 points + engine when played defensively, but didn’t feel any outstanding. Now it would be just an average card, pretty bad as a R3 topdeck. Much higher priority would have been a revert Frog Mating Season which is too high tempo for too low cost and also easily played from Filavandrel buffed by 2.


Oxenfurt Guard (4 -> 3)

(/) Mixed feelings about this change. Oxenfurt Guard convert multiple 2 gold => 4 points in one turn with leaders like Off the Books or Lined Pockets. Two clicks are enough to play on power vs provision curve (and one is enough to be on par with other 4 cost spenders). Now OG would be a more dedicated card, only for R3 one turn use. Also OG is effectively an engine and it was very hard to remove at 4 power + 2 armor.

+1 Provision

👑 Imperial Formation (15 -> 16)

(-) A revert of nerf from the very first Balance Council. Buff to Soldiers and Spotters swarm. Not necessary.


👑 Double Cross (15 -> 16)

(+) Double Cross is a classical Assimilate/Henry leader ability. Small buff is okay for this leader to compete more with the main Enslave Assimilate route.

 

Kaer Trolde (11 -> 12)

(+) Strong location, heavily abused in Self-wound decks, which lost their self-harm identity and became “Svalblod on rocks”. Good nerf.


Hive Mind (10 -> 11)

(/) Hive Mind is a completely broken, autoinclude card, released to specifically improve Arachas Swarm leader ability. Nerf to HM therefore is effectively a nerf to all non-Nekker Arachas Swarm decks. 


Cave Troll (9 -> 10)
Donimir of Troy (9 -> 10)

(+) Sooner or later not balance, but gameplay considerations have to come to meaning in nerf bracket. Provision nerf to Defenders would make it more expensive to run some of the binary threat decks. Also Defenders get out of Golden Nekker range, where they could have been combined with engine overload.


Spring Equinox (5 -> 6)

(+) Nerf to non-Devotion Nature’s Gift which had too good pointslam in April Season 2024. Spring Equinox plays as 10 tempo when at full value (in theory it is possible to meme with 26+ cards deck and get even more) and in Nature’s Gift Simlas into 2xEquinox was 24 points for 15 provision with no need of preparation. Provision nerf would make this simple combo more expensive.

Master of Puppets (5 -> 6)

(+) Another gameplay focused nerf – MoP must come at enough cost to not be a common card in a ladder joker sleeve.


Highland Warlord (5 -> 6)

(/) This nerf was bound to happen at some point because of Warriors being popular deck, facing which a part of playerbase feels overwhelmed. That’s for sure not the case for competitive Gwent in 2024, where Warriors felt well balanced. Revert is likely.


Duchess’ Informant (4 -> 5)

(-) I don’t understand this immediate revert; Duchess Informant at 4-cost didn’t prove troublesome at least for me. Of course in theory copying any opponent’s bronze should come at least at 5 cost, but in practice I had no issues with this card. What’s even worse, DI at 4-cost brought some life to experiments with Spies, and this archetype would feel it more than Assimilate.

Buff Brackets

+1 Power

Katakan (5 -> 6)

(+) Unplayed in Vampires netdeck, okay buff.

 

Ulula (6 -> 7)

(+) In order to build decks around Ulula, this card itself must be strong and hard to remove. Mixing Ulula effect with engine overload is tricky, therefore she was rather vulnerable compared with counterparts in other factions. Ulula in a sense gets protection buff twice because of Sigrdrifa’s Rite.


Weavess (6 -> 7)

(+) Very good change. I think that Whispess also deserves a buff as a part of the Trio. Then old Renew into Crone strategy may become more feasible again, which is good for variety.


Chimera (5 -> 6)

(++) Chimera wasn’t a good enough payoff card for swarm. It’s also a buff to classically used Dol Dhu Lokke. Buff to Chimera is specific to classical AQ swarm, making it compete more with Tatterwing version.


Giant Toad (3 -> 4)

(/) Nerfed to 3 power Giant Toad felt underwhelming, especially in Deathwish decks played from red coin. At 4 power it’s a very strong, autoinclude bronze in Deathwish. Unfortunately we are stucked between these two alternatives and ‘autoinclude’ state right now is better for deckbuilding, because there is nothing else instead in the same archetype. In my opinion this buff should come with nerfs to Deathwish R1 blue coin tempo abuse: Brewess: Ritual and Dagon first form.


Reinforced Trebuchet (4 -> 5)

(-) Indirect buff to Siege, which was already in a good spot, even if not main meta pick. Card likely still wouldn’t be played from hand.

 

Whisperer of Dol Blathanna (3 -> 4)

(/) +1 power to this card is an overwhelming buff; if we chain triple Orb, Whisperer would now play for 16 points on deploy and remain a threat on the board. Moreover it is possible to combine such chain with Golden Nekker for even more effect (for kicks, imagine Whisperer topdeck + Call of Forest into Fauve into Tempest + Arcane Tome). Surely this buff will bring some life to Spella’tael, but healthy it is not. Moreover, random rolls from Diplomacy or Bountiful Harvest would be now even more impactful. Worth checking out, but likely to catch a nerf next month.


Vernossiel’s Commando (3 -> 4)

(-) This card overall doesn’t match well with Elves archetype because of going high. It would offer nothing interesting but power. What matters more is indirect buff to Feign Death scenario, which becomes stronger and answering both Scenario and Commando would be now harder for many decks. I’m not a fan of buffing the tempo of the scenario, which was already abused in combo with Vanadain. The idea was probably to promote Scenario Elves over Heist.


Naglfar Taskmaster (4 -> 5)

(+) Good change, there should be an upside over Pellar for a faction specific card. And Pellar still may be played in some MO over Taskmaster because of the Dominance condition of the latter.


Vrihedd Officer (3 -> 4)

(/) Deserved

-1 Provsion

Renfri (15 -> 14)

(-)
– We need to nerf strongest high-end cards at some point
– BUT NOT MY CARD!!!!


Feign Death (14 -> 13)

(/) Buff to classical non-Heist Elves, but unfortunately also to direct FD + Vanadain tempo+carryover abuse.


Oneiromancy (13 -> 12)

(++) Oneiromancy got heavily overcosted due to the power level of cards getting more equal and each provision more useful. Very good change, welcomed by me as a deckbuilder.


Shupe’s Day Off (12 -> 11)

(/) Shupe not bad, but me wants to see more Shups.


Professor (12 -> 11)

(-) Professor wasn’t a bad card at 12 provision; I included him in my Hidden Cache Midrange deck in the January Season. He value trades up by ~10 points against 4 power engines. Unnecessary buff; card was unplayed but good.

 
Count Reuven’s Treasure (11 -> 10)

(/) Okay provision buff to this weird, often RNG dependent card. Although I’m not a big fan of cards which develop best value when played for carryover, for example on drypass.

Avallac’h: Sage (10 -> 9)

(+) Good buff for consistency in decks playing multiple artefacts.  


Ermion (8 -> 7)

(+) Overcosted outside Alchemy, good buff.


Brewess (7 -> 6)

(/) Good buff, Crones Trio was underpowered, with only 6 damage Whispess playing on power vs provision curve.


Selfeater (6 -> 5)

(-) Brutal way to buff Relicts. Self-eater would more often be replayable with Incubus. Win-condition engine at 5-cost moves the game in the direction of removal+engine meta, which is rather unhealthy and draw dependent. But getting a Relicts season should be effective.

Summary

Council changes by faction (from Reddit)
Origins of council changes by Matol (D - MetallicDanny, CH - Chinese Coalition, N - Necrotal&P_Star, NR - Nik_r)
  • China (14/17)
  • Metallic Danny (12/12)
  • Nik_r (8/24)
  • Necrotal & P_Star (11/12)
  • Monsters

Selfeater to 5 cost and Giant Toad to 4 power are direct, brutal way of forcing Relicts and Deathwish back into top meta. Other changes has less impact.

  • Nilfgaard

Soldiers got buffed (Formation +1c) and nerfed (Sergeant -1p) at the same time. Assimilate got slight nerfs with Informant +1c and Artorius -1p. Judging from the last season, Nilfgaardian competitive decks would be Hospitality, Rot Tossers Engineers and Cultists. Have fun!

  • Northern Realms

Nothing new to try, but for improved Siege. Stockpile with Temerian Infantry (-1p) abuse solidly nerfed; same for all other Radovid (-1p) decks.

  • Scoia’tael

Double buff to Feign Death scenario and huge buff +1p to Whisperer of Dol Blathanna

Scenario buff probably would matter mostly for… Precision Strike with Simlas + Vanadain combo. 

Whisperer buff would make whole Spellatael focus on the abuse of this exact card.

  • Skellige

Experiments with Ulula

  • Syndicate

Nothing new but for Professor (-1c) becoming easy pick for any midrange SY deck and Count Reuven’s Treausure becoming cheaper carryover abuse (-1c). Off the Books got a small nerf (Oxenfurt Guard -1p), the strongest deck of April Meta in my opinion – Pirates’ Cove is untouched.

  • Overall

Whisperer of Dol Blathanna (+1p) and Selfeater (-1c) are the highlights of the patch. Abuse of these engines is the main new quality to May Season with respect to the past. It would invite Greed + Control meta, with no space for calm pointslam decks without multiple efficient control tools.

Closure

Hope you had a good read! I’ve recently started streaming my ladder games on Twitch and plan to do more in this season!

See you on ladder and Community Open on 18th May!