Renfri – the main, thematic card of Black Sun Gwent Expansion (10.7) immediately have become the center of interest and concern of the community. This article will breakdown and analyze the card. The topic was suggested by JMJWilson and I was reluctant to write it at first because of balance cringe. Anyway, two weeks into the patch the cringe is the new normality, maybe not as scary as I thought at first, but it is still too early to say…
- Most Renfri abilities are of instant use. All Curses are instant, while instant Blessings are in minority (3/7)
- Out of Blessings, 2 options are especially good for late R3 use: Temperance and Diligence
- Chance to get one of those in a normal scenario is equal to 71.4%; with Runemage 95.2%. What may seem as a cheeky highroll in the former case in fact happens in 7/10 rolls. (check out Gwent Calculator tool!)
- Alternatively the main strategy may be going for a passive ability early. Chances to roll a passive without Runemage is 97.1%, otherwise it is certain and a choice between two passive Blessings is guaranteed.
- Passive abilities overall suit red coin better for an early use, especially the Patience. In such case win on even cards become serious threat.
- Passive abilties would work best in decks capable of establishing great carryover thanks to proper cards are round control. For example Cloggers Renfri would be great if only crucial cards weren’t specials (Coated Weapons) or Artifact (Gorthur Gvaed). But Mill still could be tried 😉
- In such case leader ability should be commitable early on without losing too much value. Invigorate or Pincer Maneuver are examples of such abilities – first maintains value in handbuff, second in hand quality.
- Overall Sloth (when missing a golden card ) and Envy (as a long round finisher) are Curses distinctive for power. Pride is of great use in decks lacking control when opponent plays heavy engines. Lust and Gluttony are on the weaker side, but the first one could still find huge value incidentally and the latter needs deckbuiling support (amazing finisher on Regis:Reborn in Vampires)
- Amongst Blessings, Dilligence stands out overall for instant utility. Other abilities depend on gameplan and various circumstances more. Charity stands out as the weakest one, but still there are scenarios where it could be the pick. Depends greatly on deck used; one can imagine for example using it like Roche into Priestess + Tridam Infantry combo. Kindness is probably the strongest passive ability overall, while Patience has amazing ceiling.
The only constraint on Renfri is playing 25 units in the deck. It is even possible to play more cards (26+) if only at least 25 units are present. It could be a tricky solution when need to fit in powerful special or artifact.
- How harsh is the restriction?
Renfri is an absolute game changer for decks making use mostly of units (Handbuff/Relicts/wholesome Vampires…). It not only improves raw deck points by around 20 (ev would be discussed later) but also makes these builds way more flexible.
Overall, units only restriction means very little for Midrange decks where Special/Artifact cards could be replaced by a bit weaker unit counterparts.
Midrange decks where replacement is impossible simply become dead. Even the power of outstanding gold card like Simlas is nothing to challenge Renfri. The space outside Renfri is left only for Combo and Greedy decks in which crucial cards are non-unit (Witches’ Sabbath, Golden Nekker…).
We could see this situation clearly in the ladder meta. All midrange decks (Devotion Syndicate, Precision Strike/Elves with Simlas…) got replaced by Renfri counterparts which simply have more points. The only non-Renfri decks are engine heavy combo ones (Golden Nekker Syndicate, Triple Kitty, Keltullis, NR Knights…)
- Going >25 cards
When Black Sun Expansion was assessed, Scenarios were often viewed as powerful cards, making the gap between golds and bronzes even higher. Consequently, even going above 25 cards in order to play them with Renfri was considered.
The idea was soon verified by ladder and now, two weeks after expansion, none of Scenarios is played on top meta level (Damsel in Distress sees play in NR Knights, but these are 6th faction on high MMRs right now). What is the reason?
- Is >25 a nonsense by default?
There are two complementary views on going 25=>26 cards, depending if we are optimists or pessimist
Optimist: going 25=>26 I simply replace 8 power unit with 2×4 provision units
Pessimist: 26th card added to the deck is worth its provision +5 (+4 due to extra card and +1 because the deck is worse at thinning)
The +5 provision assessment is fair. Pessimist view is more real, although optimist correctly pointed out that difference in power between low-end units is also important – provision weigh more if gold-to-bronze power gap is high.
Are new Scenarios good enough to be played at 19/20 provision cost? No, they are not. Also the Renfri meta with lots of pointslam and thinning tempo cards do not invite playing Scenarios; rounds will be shortened at best and at worst Scenario would get bled out playing as “5 for 20” points.
The >25 idea simply requires stronger cards overall than new Scenarios. For example playing “second Renfri” at 18 provision cost would be a no-brainer ;-).
Renfri value obviously depends on rolls and therefore has high variance. Practical ceiling value on Renfri would be about 60 effective points on deploy. To see this value let’s consider scenario where Curse of Pride is used to kill 9 points engine granting +3 points per turn. Effective Curse value is equal to 9+9*3=36 points when used at round start. Then Blessing of Kindness could be used for another +13 points. Renfri value is 36+13+7 = 56. That’s just a rough estimate of practical ceiling – you could do better of course. There is 3/7 base chance to find best Curse in a given moment – ceiling events are not unlikely at all!
Given that sometimes things could go wrong, a safe mean value estimate would be 10 points for Blessing and 15 points for curse. Even in this safe approach, Renfri is worth 32 effective points on average when everything is summed together! It is ~15 points above best midrange cards at the same cost on deploy; moreover – it needs no setup, while cards like Artaud, Munro or Simlas depends heavily on prepartion and are way more clunky!
My First Renfri Meta Experience
After 80 games on Pro Ladder I could thoroughly feel Renfri power which I put on paper in the paragraph above. Midrange decks not playing Renfri sadly are a joke right now for competitive. You wait for this 30 points swing to close the gap after playing Renfri, but there is none.
In Renfri mirrors many games come down to quality of rolls. There is usually a small ~5 points gap and the result hangs on which side will roll better C&B.
Many but not all. Renfri gives lot of room for improvisation, active play and planning ahead. Different to other Create cards, effects are not resolved immediately, which in a sense lowers RNG. For example if you miss the removal from the Curse of Wrath, then you could choose Curse of Envy and wait for the round to finish.
In spite of bipolar (Renfi <=> Greedy Engines) meta, my first experience is not so bad. At least Renfri is a tool available for everyone and card itself leaves the field for outplay (RNG management, good timing). I’m pretty sure though it would shift more into negativity when I cross 2500 mark and decks and gameplans would become more monotonous.
A classical approach to Renfri deck would be using leader ability:
- Easily commitable early and without passive ability.
- Turning leader value into carryover.
These lists could be called ‘classical’ Renfri decks then (although the latter is cheesy at the same time):
, where Curse of Gluttony could be matched with Regis:Reborn for stable finisher value.
Finally, both points could be forgotten about for the most part, and just best possible stuff is played instead with Renfri. These types of decks are most successful on ladder right now afaik:
Thanks for reading! If you are a casual player – enjoy building your own Renfri deck and seeing the card work!
If you are a competitive player, enjoy the card art, maybe last time you would see it in such intensity!