This season was a tryhard one for me, starting in the middle and trying to play Gwent whenever possible. I wasn’t focused on particular achievement, but just tried to optimize decks and win as many games as possible. It was a really exhausting process and while the score may look relatively efficient, I play very slow and my climb took loads of time.
I’m really happy with the final outcome though: 10th position as well as 10.555 MMR is my highscore in competitive Gwent seasons. Surely the score wasn’t saturated and I could have pursued SY/MO climb further, but I was satisfied with guaranteed Top16 Qualifiers slot.
Factions (starting from the lowest)
Scoia'tael (no games)
With Handbuff lacking efficient control tools and Milva getting nerfed I didn’t try playing this faction.
Northern Realms (2538 fMMR / 94 games)
Northern Realms were objectively a Tier1 faction, but rather hard to play perfectly. I tried hard, but my results were underwhelming. I played mostly main meta version, Devotion without Spellweavers and Defender.
Nilfgaard (2605 fMMR / 104 games)
Nilfgaard was the faction I had the best start with, getting a winstreak up to around 2460. Then the climb become harder, but I still felt NG as very strong. I had run mostly main meta Assimilate up to around 2550 level.
I enjoyed Calveit as a strong guiding card. I spotted three main weaknesses of Assimilate build:
- Early plays in a long round are often awkward when cards like Braathens or Vigo lack targets.
- The main early play is Joachim, but he plays taller than the rest of the deck. Also, his targets are always weak bronzes in case Blightmakers were already used.
- It is impossible to control gold engines and develop assimilate at the same time.
These consideration led me to try to find strong proactive plays amongst Nilfgaard golds. Unfortunately, there is very few of such cards. I decided that the best one is… Ramon+Vrgheff+Illusionists combo!
To provide extra control i’ve chosen Imprisonment leader. The deck was strongly favored in every matchup but mirror, which was just doomed. Of course it also relied on surprise value. Here is the Imprisonment Illusionists list, but beware that:
- It is a pile.
- Ladder would be a better place if you don’t use it.
Skellige (2632 fMMR / 141 games)
I started to play Skellige only when Northern Realms proven to be disaster in my hands. My choice was Rage of the Sea, because of good matchup against Nilfgaard, which was dominant on ladder at that time (version from Spyro stream under link, I played 2x Slash instead of Hermit).
I climbed fast and fluently to about 2520 level in ~30 games. At the time I had to revisit SK peak though, the meta already shifted and Pirates become main SK option instead of Alchemy. Yikes. Rain matchup against Pirates is very hard due to armor and after losing this matchup by about 30 points in a long round I decided to switch.
I didn’t really like Alchemy due to its passiveness, some dead cards in R1 and being tied to Location/Scenario. Pirates offered better round/board control, so I decided to join the raid.
The problem with Pirates is that the deck obviously lacks raw points and have to rely on opponent’s making micro and macrostrategy errors in most matchups. I played a lot around with cards like Covenant of Steel or Wild Boar, trying to make NG matchup better. Some of those efforts were good in short term, but in the long run I was rather tanking than gaining MMR.
Finally I decided to take up my teammate Xiwer’s list, beacuse he took Non-Devo Pirates all the way up to ~2650 fMMR at the time. I got some lucky streaks of misplaying/misdrawing opponents and climbed to 2630 in 2 days (my take on Xiwer’s Pirates – original list plays 2x Invader instead of 1x Slash, 1x Hunter, which is probably better). Strongly recommend to try the list if you don’t understand how a man may hate a dog!
Monsters (2647 fMMR / 94 games)
At the start of the season Monsters were considered as a possible 4th faction along with Skellige. Perhaps due to bad Syndicate and Northern Realms matchups both the meta Keltullis and Vampires decks were dropped out by most pro players. This way MO became niche at very high MMRs towards the end of the season.
I started with Mya-Mon Vampires list from the preceeding season. The gameplay was new to me and I made lot of misplays. I had to rethink the build.
Sabbath is the backbone of the deck. Commiting gold cards like Cave Troll or Unseen Elder only for the sake of playing Sabbath is no net gain though, unless some important objective is achieved thanks to this (like winning on even).
Also, the added value of Sabbath is the engine overload. While it is ok to have Defender + 2 Engines, it is even better to have 3 hardly removable engines instead.
Finally Megascopes let basically play Fleder from Sabbath for no cost; another ones could be played from hand or saved for later on if opponent commits too much control tools (for example while defending a soft push).
Having these ideas in mind i rebuilt the original list by removing She-Who-Knows and Defender – Economy Sabbath Vamps. With this list and skillful draws I climbed to 2550 fMMR in 40 games.
Mosters peak was then left untouched for the most of the season. When revisiting the faction, some problems appeared. Opponents started to play more actively and the deck has little to offer for a short round (or defending bleed). Obviously it relied too much on good draws in R1. But even is successful, the matchup like Syndicate was unfavored and relying on opponent missing cards.
I decided then to add more power to the deck and consequently treat Sabbath just as a normal card rather than win condition. Also I fixed the problem of proactvity by adding Wild Hunt Hound (it doesn’t spoil Sabbath with 3 power unlike Garkain) – Highroll Sabbath.
In spite of occassional wins like in the picture above, the deck still wasn’t good enough for the meta and SY matchup was unfavored in general. I just tanked NG at this point and was left with MO at 2570 MMR for improvement. It seemed pretty doomed (to the point I started to consider mad options like this).
To not lose sanity, I decided to forget Sabbath and give a shot for wholesome non-Devo Midrange. I played such deck in the preceeding season with decent results. To optimize the list better for SY matchup I decided to cut Katakan from the old list as too easy Whoreson Junior target. Also Operator proven to be too clunky with Wanderers + Naglfar. The final, Non-Devo Vampires Pointslam list is favored vs Pirates and decent against SY/NR at the same time. It simply plays good cards and has strong pointslam high-end. Last day’s winstreak was decisive for my Top16 spot.
Syndicate (2671 fMMR / 120 games)
In general Pajabol’s Midrange Syndicate worked best for me for the most of the season. For the final climb though i’ve built my own Bounty version for extra greed points.
Impressions and Closure
In my opinion meta was very steady and calm on high MMRs. It consisted of:
- Syndicate Midrange/Bounty
- Nilfgaard Assimilate (sometimes also Hyperthin)
- Non-Devo and Devo Alumni
- Non-Devo and Devo Pirates
And that’s it. Retrospectively Vampires for sure deserved more attention. I enjoyed playing in this meta because it was chill and matchups were not that binary. Obviously Syndicate was few steps ahead and King of Beggars rework is really called for.
Thanks for reading and see you on ladder!