July Season 2023 after The Tide Rises expansion was a fine experience to me. Scores are not amazing, but satisfying enough. At the moment of writing I am at 2nd position on Gwent Pro Ladder, with 10.581 MMR and 40+ LEI4.
At the same time, top MMR spots rivalry became sandbox with few players involved and no real reward; playing for Top3 rather than Top16 is a matter of pure ambition and sadly there are not enough freaks on ladder to build a cutting edge competitive enviroment. Therefore because of long queue times and necessity of heavy grind for small mmr gains I finished competitive play a bit earlier – also a good opportunity to share my decks and thoughts for the very last few days.
This time all decks used were built myself; two meta and two off-meta.
- SY Lined Pockets Vice (2668)
Very broken, which sadly is invisible in ladder stats contrary to top players experience.
SY was sole Tier S in July Season in my opinion, but required a little bit of prior learning, experience and deck polishing. In practice the deck loses only when all spenders get denied before Acherontia turn. Therefore whole deck is filled with fee cards and even runs Azar Javed to protect the spenders and crucial vice cards: Ixora, Acherontia. Azar is also Tribute, which could be abused to get 50/50 on instantly protected KoB as spender.
Ixora feels absurdly strong against decks playing mostly tall units (Ogroids, “SK Ogroids” discussed later, White Frost…); Acherontia turn with a couple of Sesames could be with no exaggeration 50 points with zero downsides.
Zero downsides is perhaps what makes the deck so strong – it has no real weakness. While typical combo/engine decks rely on playing cards with huge ceiling, but sub-par instant value, Ixora and Acherontia play for good points even with a single use. And when uncontrolled, they simply autowin every game. Dropping Achero/Ixora when defending bleed + single proc is still good tempo. Open, Sesame! enabling flashy one turn combos is a good card by itself; having 2 of them + 4 coins carryover after R1 means getting to Round 2 with extra ~12 flexible points to use or save for R3. In such circumstances both bleeding and not bleeding SY Lined Pockets Vice ends in a failure 90% of times.
- SK “Ogroids” (2654)
While the real Ogroids apparently ended in low Tier 2 as predicted in the archetype guide, I ended up running a Skellige list which offers very similar experience. Greatswords cosplay tall Ogres; the one pulled with Tyr is King Chrum.
Very calm and sound midrange deck, having good pointslam and decent number of efficient control tools. The biggest weakness I experienced is low tempo, which sometimes forces too much commitment to catch up in time. In meta with Pirates and Imperial Formation, lock cards Dorregaray and Djenge find good trades while providing body for Triss: Meteor Shower.
Royal Decree is a perfect midrange tutor having four 20+ points unit targets on the high end.
While Dwimveandra + Bearification may seem brickable, they offer good opportunity and could always be discarded with Tyr when necessary.
In the first half of the season I used to play Battle Trance Kaer Trolde abuse, but it appeared to be too draw dependent and too prone to tall removal tools.
SK Ogroids are still a fresh list, so feel free to experiment – for example build a Renfri version, run extra Freya’s Blessing for Tyr (but he never lives…) or replace Heatwave with vanilla Geralt for extra 5 points vs tall units including Meteor Shower boost.
Outside competitive decks, I also happened to lost to R1 Lippy (!) deck piloted by player nicknamed JamSlasher. I made a (not 1:1) rebuild based on these encounter, demo of which you could find on kungfoorabbit channel.
Not playing a single card from The Tide Rises expansion, not in the meta before expansion, object of “Kelly at home” jokes in the Polish community…
While some FoN Relicts Nekker decks were pioneered at the beginning of 2023 by Kyjpew (a.k.a. Boss Of The Gym) and later adopted by Truzky and me, they left the meta quite soon due to proness to control and overall awkwardness.
I tried Carapace Relicts after mixed experience with White Frost and it done exceptionally well, bringing me from ~2550 to ~2630 level. The rationale was that decks like Formation Soldiers or Pirates develop lots of armor, which makes Frost less effective. Carapace Relicts unlike Frost are unreliant on opponent’s board.
Carapace leader choice instead of Force of Nature makes it easier for Self-eaters to be kept alive; for example Warrior decks struggle with removing 8 power toe enjoyer.
The most important thing to recognise is that this type of Relicts build is no longer suited for blindfolded smorc. In fact, the engine value offered by Selfeaters and Necromancer’s Tome is tremendous; this deck confidently beats Reavers in a long round, especially with first say! Not much difference when it comes to Inspired Zeal. Most often you would like to push R2 very softly, maybe only play Incubus into Self-eater to get the first opponent’s juice out and prepare Incubi for Necro Tome.
Another key to understand the deck is that units played from Teleportation/Decree/Marching Orders/Necromancy emerge after Necro Tome in Golden Nekker sequence. It means that Necro Tome is already active and should get at least one proc in GN turn.
Pro Tip: Don’t use Marching Orders before Knickers comes out!
- NG Enslave 6 (2627)
Panzer type of Enslave 6, focused on guaranteeing stable 20 points value on Battle Stations thanks to good topdecks. No tall punish (cut Vilgefortz) – Glorious Hunt left alone to remove main threats (Tyr, Demavend, Crach, Ixora…).
I used this list mostly in 2600 region, while earlier climb was done with Soldiers + Aristocrat hybrid. Sadly mentioned list stopped to work when opponents became more aggressive, but maybe also it was me not squeezing R1 gameplan to 100%.
- As I said in Decks section, Syndicate feels very oppressive if only opponent knows the basic strategies. I hope for smart nerfs in the incoming Gwent 11.8 patch.
- Temple of Melitele is an awkwardly designed card, reliant on both R1 draw and create rolls RNG. It needs lower variance and a tooltip for opponent to react to Temple picks, or maybe complete rework.
- Demavend and Kimbolt have too high ceiling, punishing missed control tool beyond limits. Demavend is too strong itself and self-trigger with Winch and other cooldown reset cards should be removed somehow.
- While Scoia’tael performed worse overall according to global data, my experience of playing against ST is different. Puzzle.Express version is very strong and I had many problems to defeat it. High end in Elves is so strong that playing consistency tools is a waste; instead consistency Stratagem may be used (resigning from ~8p Aen Seidhe Sabre, but good R1 hand could be worth more…). Abuse of The Heist with Vanadain and Angus is unpleasant gameplay wise; often the game is over right after R1.
- My reveal card: Hostage Taker got -1 power nerf in released version and I encountered him only twice in 600+ games. All-in Traps are simply too weak for Hostage Taker to see any play. Therefore also the nerf was undeserved.
- The discrepancy between tournament and ladder level would be huge now without meaningful ladder rewards above Top16.
Hope you enjoyed this short July Season recap from Gwent Pro Ladder and maybe would like to try some of the presented decks yourself. I plan to provide more content in the next days, so stay tuned.
Also some interesting tournament match is incoming next week…