Monsters Leader Abilities In Gwent – Strategy & Decks

Introduction

After General Guide To Leader Abilities In Gwent, we move into more detailed breakdown, faction-by-faction, following the alphabetical order. We start from Monsters. Each leader ability would be accompanied by a short characteristics, most important synergies (importance rated with stars) and example decks.

All demo decks presented in the series could also be found in a Google Sheet.

Carapace

Carapace is a mix of pointslam (9 raw points) and synergistic (engine protection) leader ability. Synergies (stars show how important given synergy is):

  • Engine Protection *** | +3 power buff and Veil (if used on non-neutral units) helps to protect greedy threats from removal or locks. Not spawning a unit, Carapace is a perfect host for Keltullis. 
  • Might ** | Carapace is the perfect leader ability to fulfill Might condition in a fast and convenient way. It is a perfect host for Ogroids or a swarm with Tugo The Elder.
  • Adda: Striga * | Carapace has direct synergy with Adda:Striga. Buffing Adda enables consume on any token up to 14 power. Adda consuming 13 points opponent’s token is worth 6+2*13 = 32 points. 

In Gwent 11.11. Ogroids (Might) were subjected to huge nerfs, which made Engine Protection aspect the most important again.

Demo decks:

  • Carapace Triple KeltullisCarapace helps to protect Keltullis, Defender and other engines which are win-condition of the deck. 
  • Carapace Ogroids AerondightPointslam Ogroids are supported with efficient control tools. High tempo plays are used to ensure good Aerondight value.  
  • Carapace Striga Puzzle BoxMysterious Puzzle Box helps to guarantee Adda:Striga value. Deck would perform best in specific metas, where high power tokens are naturally present (Arnjolf Patricide, Bear Abomination…). I played this list in the September Season Top64 Qualifier. 
  • Carapace Relicts Golden Nekker –  Self-eater is a bronze engine with huge ceiling – Carapace leader fits very well to protect Self-eaters, which are also capable of accumulating carryover. Similar list could be played with Force of Nature leader; however Carapace is more stable. 
  • Carapace Renfri Mourntart Relicts Yaga (meme) – Self-eater split is the source of Mourntart value. Yaga provides control and another Relict tag.

Force Of Nature

Force Of Nature is a pointslam type leader ability (9 raw points) with following synergies:

  • Thrive *** | Playing 9 power Woodland Spirit token triggers Thrive, which means +1 on simple thrive engines. In the case of greedy high-end Thrive engines the bonus is higher. FoN instantly procs Koshchey, which is worth 3 points + engine value of spawned Endrega Larva. 
  • Relicts ** | Woodland Spirit is a Relict, which is a payoff for Selfeaters; +1 for each Self-eater copy present on the board. WS body also supports Gan Caenn.
  • Body ** | Woodland Spirit helps to set up Sabbath keyword units faster than any other Monsters leader ability without going tall (unlike Carapace). WS body also improves Triss:Meteor Shower value by 5 points.

In Gwent 11.11. the Thrive synergy is the most relevant aspect. FoN is the superior leader to host the powerful short round engine Koshchey. As a host it becomes heavy coupled with Koshchey and prone to bleed (Leader Abilities General Guide)

Demo decks:

  • Force Of Nature Koshcheymy 2650 fMMR / 66 games deck from October Season 2023. FoN instantly activates Koshchey and procs Endrega Larvas.
  • Force Of Nature Renfri Koshcheya Renfri variant of the same idea. Renfri abilities to go for are ‘Play a unit from hand’ and ‘Play lowest cost unit from deck’, which may be used to trigger Koshchey many times in one turn. 
  • Force Of Nature Sabbath Gernichora Koshcheya degenerate Triple Gernichora / Koshchey hybrid; FoN procs not only Koshchey, but also Gernichora fruits. Moreover WS body could help to guarantee Bloody Mistress => Gernichora transform in some cases. 
  • Force Of Nature Relicts Golden Nekker –  making use of Woodland Spirit Relict tag – deck focuses on developing Selfeaters value. FoN Golden Nekker Relicts are more greedy than Carapace version of the same build and suffers more from removal. That’s the reason why Cave Troll got selected at 9 provision – it could protect Selfeaters in Round 1; feel free to test other options in this slot dependent on meta.

White Frost

White Frost is a synergistic type of leader ability (8 raw points max) with following synergies:

  • Frost *** | White Frost adds value to Weather payoff cards – outside specific Frost units (Wild Hunt Aristocrat, Navigator, Eredin, Caranthir…) most notably to Ancient Foglets.
  • Wild Hunt ** | Passive part of the leader ability adds +1 point to each Wild Hunt unit played when there is Frost in the opposing row.
  • Movement | Not exploited but for maximizing Frost damage value.

The purpose of the White Frost leader ability in Gwent 11.11. is maximizing the value of Frost dependent cards; other ideas are not justified because leader ability is very weak and conditional outside value located on cards.

Demo decks:

  • White Frost Devotion Wild Hunt – Devotion enables a very important perk to Tir na Lia order effect (Frost carryover) as well as 3rd form Auberon (+1 to each Wild Hunt unit which gets played with Auberon on board) and Winter Queen end of the round boost. White Frost charges in this version have to be used with caution, because no other movement is run. White Frost Devotion Wild Hunt is one of my favorite decks – very thematic and hard to master, with relatively strong bronzes. 
  • There are also other White Frost decks playable (Lara Dorren, Golden Nekker, Sabbath…) , but none good enough to be worth mention here or making different use of leader ability)

Arachas Swarm

Fully card dependent leader ability, worth only 5 raw points and having following synergies:

    • Swarm*** | Arachas Swarm has 5 drone spawning charges to use during the game. Also every organic card spawns an additional drone. This could be exploited with swarm payoff cards like Yennerfer of Vengerberg, Lara Dorren, Bone Talisman, Chimera and so on.
    • Spawning *** | Spawning drones gives charges to Kikimore Stalker and triggers Hive Mind
    • Glustyworp / Consume Fodder *** | Each spawned drone is a fodder for Glustyworp, which in Arachas Swarm decks could play for exceptional value. Consequently, Consume payoff cards like Vran Warrior or She-Troll of Vergen also could reach a formidable ceiling. In no-unit Arachas Swarm approach, Glustyworp could be used to awake Frightener on the last say. 
    • Kikimore Queen ** | Arachas Swarm could quickly fill a row for this card. Moreover, every Organic procs Kiki Queen and also triggers AS passive ability.

Arachas Swarm could support various strategies, but those would always rely on synergistic cards. In general AS decks could be divided into Swarm and Consume classes which shouldn’t be mixed. First group uses aerial buffs and/or Kikimore Queen as swarm payoff, while the second consumes drones with Glustyworp. But for payoff, both classes would use similar cards to setup the board. 

Demo Decks:

  • Arachas Swarm Idr Sabbath (Consume)a greedy engine overload deck with a trademark Glustyworp finisher. Arachas Swarm enhances the value of Glustyworp (consume fodder drones) and Stalkers (spawning). 
  • Arachas Swarm Tatterwing Lara (Swarm) – leader ability helps to swarm enough to get high value from payoff card Lara Dorren. This is the version I played in August 2023 Top 64 Qualifier. There is also a similar build capable of playing double Lara Dorren with Ge’els tigger.
  • Arachas Swarm Kikimore Queen Golden Nekker (Swarm) – leader ability helps to set up the row for Kikimore Queen. Optimally Caranthir into Kikimore Queen is played from Golden Nekker to get multiple triggers in one turn.
  • Arachas Swarm Ruehin Consume – a recent novelty; Ruehin consumes so many tokens that even Glustyworp isn’t run in this list. Arachas Swarm hosts Hive Mind and provides 1p drones so that Ruehin isn’t forced to consume high power units.
  • Arachas Swarm Mourntart (Consume, Meme) – thanks to Siegfried global purify, drones become fodder not only for Glustyworp, but also Mourntart.

Fruits Of Ysgith

Fruits of Ysgith is a pure pointslam leader ability with very little synergistic factor. In a full single round Fruits of Ysgith power do not exceed 11 points; ceiling is equal to number of cards in hand +1 every round (unless Frutis isn’t consumed, thrived many times in one turn etc.). If every round is played, then Fruits of Ysgith power may reach 19 points; at least 8 points are used for a different purpose than directly winning the final round. Synergies:

  • Units *** –  Fruits of Ysgith are generally limited to decks playing units rather than specials; only this way Fruit thrives often enough.
  • Points Into Carryover *** – Fruits of Ysgith with very little added synergistic value is underwhelming when played just as a long round ability. R1/R2 Fruits points have to be converted into advantage in the decisive round. An example of carryover combo is Alpha Werewolf into Werewolf, where Fruits help to secure last say by winning Round 1. 
  • Tall Units ** – to reach full value in a long round, units must be tall enough. If the deck plays actively every round though, Fruits cap gets lower and synergy is less relevant. 
  • Refreshing Fruits * – consuming Fruit every turn we get extra +1 value (as long as respawned Fruit thrives). Effective leader value is then 3 + 8*2 = 19 in a single round with a single Slyzard. The problem is consume cards are underwhelming by themselves (and couldn’t really be much better because of Viy), so there is no real payoff to this strategy in Gwent 11.11.

Fruits of Ysgith is a unique leader ability when it comes to deckbuilding – it synergizes more with various game mechanics rather than particular cards. 

Demo Decks:

  • Fruits Werewolf Control – Alpha Werewolf + Werewolf convert Fruits points into massive last say. After winning Round 1 Fruits may consider drypass in Round 2 to maintain the last say. Then multiple control tools help to challenge a longer round (there is also a Constructs version)
  • Fruits Werewolf Nekker – similar idea, but here Fruits deck applies even more pressure from red-coin (going second). The plan is to shorten Round 3 with a deep push. The drawback is less control against greedy decks.
  • Fruits Consume Ruehin (meme) – an attempt of making use of refreshing Fruits with Ruehin as a mediator. Use consume units like Slyzard/Wererat to repeatedly consume Fruit each turn in Round 1. In Round 3 Fruit is supposed to be consumed via Ruehin.

Blood Scent

Blood Scent is a pointslam-oriented leader ability (12 raw points), having some synergies with Vampire cards. Synergies:

  • Vampires *** –  Fleders are very high ceiling engines at the cost of only two added provisions. They are almost autoinclude in every Blood Scent deck, granting huge opportunity at a very low cost. Also Regis:Reborn is a strong (~20 points) finisher and a good card, but comparable in points with Morvudd. There are also other units having synergy with Blood Scent, but not cutting edge in Gwent 11.11.
  • Pointslam Balance ** – Blood Scent is a pointslam leader ability with no spectacular, high ceiling synergies and has to be accompanied with control tools (read more about theory in General Guide To Leader Abilities). Moreover,  Blood Scent would often go for Round 2 push to dismantle opponent and then have to have good cards for very short round. Out of Vampires unfortunately only Regis:Reborn is devised as a short round card.
  • Dummy Target * – Cards like Operator, Incubus or Witches’ Sabbath could summon units on the opposing side of the board. Such units become targets for bleeding. Also Locks are generally better than removal in Vampire decks when possible, because countered threat remains on the board.

Demo Decks:

  • Blood Scent Renfri Vampires – Blood Scent provides good pointslam value, while Neutral cards support control and short round pointslam (Curse of Gluttony + Regis: Reborn last say combo)
  • Blood Scent Nekker Vampires – Bronze Vampires packet is strong and this deck uses them for an engine overload with guaranteed and instantly activated Necromancer’s Tome. Also this deck is very good at developing huge value from cards like Orianna or Protofleder.

Overwhelming Hunger

Overwhelming Hunger is a synergistic leader ability (6 raw points pointslam) supporting mainly Deathwish units. Synergies:

  • Deathwish *** –  Overwhelming Hunger helps to immediately trigger Deathwish ability without using Consume cards. In practice, the leader charge value would be: how much above Power vs Provision curve played a Deathwish unit + 3. The main target of Overwhelming Hunger defines the deck: Viy, Ruehin, Dettlaff, Succubus, Arachas Queen
  • Hand Freedom ** – Overwhelming Hunger charges may be sufficient, so that no Consume cards are needed in hand. It means more freedom to shape the hand, especially in a short round. For example Overwhelming Hunger may play Dettlaff: Higher Vampire + two control cards in a 3-cards R3, while a different leader would have to keep a consume card like Barghest instead.  
  • Graveyard * – Overwhelming Hunger may be used to immediately destroy and move a unit to the graveyard. Then such a unit for example may be consumed with Ghoul/Ozzrel or retrieved with Renew/Necromancy/Witches’ Sabbath/Incubus
  • Consume Engines * – Overwhelming Hunger charges are triggering Consume Engines like She-Troll Of Vergen or Vran Warriors. In Gwent 11.11 practice though, two charges offered by Overwhelming Hunger are not so meaningful in an archetype which already relies on sticking consume engines on the board.

Demo decks:

  • Overwhelming Hunger Deathwish Succubus Midrange – Overwhelming Hunger provides necessary consumes to payoff cards like Dettlaff or Succubus. There is enough freedom to include control cards like Heatwave or Aerondight (this is thematic version running Abaya; feel free to swap with other card if Arachas Queen in Round 3 or Brewess on red coin gets answered too often)
  • Overwhelming Hunger Viy – Overwhelming Hunger supporting Viy is a clear demonstration of Hand Freedom synergy. Imagine running Carapace leader instead in order to protect Slyzards. Such a deck probably would be better in Round 1. The problem emerges though when going into shorter rounds or wanting to spread the buffs more. Overwhelming Hunger could play 3 Viys in a 3-cards round; Carapace would have to include at least one Consume card; if such consume gets answered, then Carapace may end up making use of only one Viy.

Summary

  • About half of leader abilities has distinctive pointslam factor. Fruits of Ysgith is an extreme case of pure pointslam. Blood Scent is worth 12 raw points and supports some Vampires cards, but outside enabling Fleders/Regis:Reborn, synergy factor is not so relevant. Carapace and Force Of Nature offer decent amount of raw points (9); while going well with some cards, their builds don’t have to be all-in devoted to synergies. 
  • Overwhelming Hunger, White Frost and especially Arachas Swarm are justified only in synergistic builds running leader payoff cards.
  • None of Monsters leader abilities has real control capabilities; only White Frost with Movement could get extra value at times.

Closure

Hope you enjoyed this overview of Monsters leader abilities and maybe would like to try some of presented decks/ideas yourself. Feedback is very welcomed; if you know about other decks/ideas making use of Monsters leader abilities, please let me know – I may update this article accordingly. 

All decks from the series could also be found in a Google Sheet.