Top16 April Season Gwent Open Qualifiers Recap


In this article I would share some insight and thoughts after just won Top16 Qualifiers for Gwent Open #2 of Masters 4. It would be a personal view of different topics rather than comprehensive summary.

As far as I know, out of my matches only winners bracket final was broadcasted. Here are links to main official Lionhart&Thea cast as well as Spyro and Pawloex (pl) views of exactly this match.

Building Lineup & Preparation

(all Qualifier decks could be found here)

Probably not the way to go for serious a esportsmen, but all my preparation was done on Pro Ladder. I tried to optimize lists and give them a good flow. The question of matchups was rather secondary. I also viewed games more from deckbuilding point – results were not this important. You may would like to look into last season summary with decklists at this point for reference.

Out of 4 decks to pick, I was really sure about Priestess exclusively. Siege Master 2=>1 power and Zeal condition on Priestess were the only nerfs to the old Heatwave list I used (I believe the deck came from Rogbros originally), and few games on ladder shown it to be not very impactful for overall power.

Monsters were the first faction I jammed, just because Relicts are very relaxing to play :-). I played around with multiple lists. After RoF nerf 8p slot became a matter of big question in the last season list. I also recognised that Incubi often underperformed lacking good targets.

I decided to go for an Operator version, which sets up Self-eaters for Incubi, and play the deck from blue coin mostly to get more consistency for Operator+Self-eater combo and some carryover against non-Aerondight lists.

Syndicate in the Devo OtB version also done well on ladder. In my view it is a kind of panzer-solid deck, having tools to contest various matchups and relatively low golds-to-bronzes power gap, but no outstanding peak value.

I started to play Skellige Self-Wound after recognising it has very good matchups table and after getting frustrated with Scoia’tael Precision Strike list. I was surprised with how good S-W results were on ladder (some of these 21 games were trials of S-W Compass too, which proven to be a bit weaker 😉 ). I didn’t have much time left at this point, so just netdecked Spyro and changed Oneiromancy into Ermion + Decree tutoring. There are points for both of these solutions, Oneiromancy is a bit better for finding crucial units multiple rounds, while Ermion + Decree gives better thinning and more efficient access to most important Alchemy cards: Sigdrifa’s Rite and Restore. Effective provision cost is the same.

The problem of ST list was hard to define exactly. Just very often I ended up in an uncomfortable situation, forced to commit too much from gold package and hoping for good draws later on. I didn’t feel the deck well, had to pray opponent doesn’t play random Surrender and overall hated the list in spite of strong leader and great potential.

Finally I went Operator Relicts / Priestess Heatwave / Self-Wound / Devotion OtB.

Lineup Overview

The lineup was optimized internally rather than targeting any opponent’s decks/strategy. I was pretty lucky with pairings and other players deck choices. Small number of Aerondight decks was good for Relicts strategy, while my Syndicate with 1x Keeper of the Flame, 1x Cleric instead of Kurt was more consistent in mirrors and against Elves.

Relicts and Priestess were more blue coin oriented, while Syndicate and Self-wound supposed to be played from red coin.

Random Remarks

  • One thing I was most afraid about was opponent sniping a Relicts mirror from the red coin. With Cursed Scroll rather than TA, the risk of losing on even is real. Operator is no value in a mirror. Rat Catcheress coming from opponent’s side could easy give this one juicy extra point of edge, which will stack Aerondight and force win on even (i never really scrimmed this or any other mu though)
  • SY mirrors proven to be really skillful. Calling them draw dependent is a bullshit. Of course they are draw dependent to some extent, but that’s a property of every mirror (otherwise they are coin depedent instead ;-)). I made loads of severe misplays and still win because opponents played no better. Two examples of my misplays from the top of my head (against Kerpeten): playing into Fisstech from Shady Vendor by poisoning and buffing Salamandra Mage, killing a unit with Renegade Mage rather than setting up 3 for Hysteria. 
  • Self-Wound was an absolute MVP of the tournament. Top3 players brought S-W. Kerpeten and mine winrate combined was 100% (but for game vs Priestess, but I don’t remember it) and Qnerr lost only one game by missing crucial card at the right moment.
  • A good takeout from this tournament would be also to test various lists (I hadn’t self-wound practice in the season before, but it appeared MVP) and take decks which you feel and like to play. It lead me to omitting Precision Strike Dwarves (and avoid all Surrender techs). Qnerr took more comfortable for him Siege instead of Priestess (also being a bit afraid of Self-Wound and Priestess targetting) and qualified too. Whenever you want to target something, be sure you could invest much time into scrims to see if your lists are actually playable and favored!
  • Why not clicking?

I didn’t play aware enough and was missing points here and there (including not using Champion of Svalblod on Bride in the very last play), but there was a consideration behind not clicking Melusine in this position. Something which struck and obsessed me at some point. What if opponent plays Kurt to purify Knut, buff Jacques to maximum possible height with current number of coins and kill Melusine? In the situation in the picture above it is exactly possible: Gellert would buff Jacques by 2, Candle by 6 and there would be 2 coins left from leader. Jacques could grow to 23, which is enough to kill Melusine at 12p after click.

The question is if Knut gets Zeal after purifying and I had no idea. You could tell me 😉

  • I enjoyed the tournament as a whole (some disturbances I hope would be fixed) and felt that bringing good decks and playing well mattered. Definitely not even close to worst meta ever, especially in tournaments. Sadly the last patch brought no fresh air when it comes to competitive meta – I think braver and broader changes in cards are not a bad idea right now. Maybe some improvement for playtests so that more things could be figured out early and more meaningful changes introduced?
  • When it comes to power of different factions, Gwent seems to be pretty balanced (although Golden Nekker evens out the field for the weakest factions a bit). When it comes to internal balance of golds and bronzes point gap, not really, but for Relicts and Syndicate.
  • I’ve seen in Reddit comments many misconceptions about Golden Nekker decks. Those are not this much coin polarized by itself – your tempo pack could be used to threat win on even when on red. Otherwise GN decks would not be 50%+ winrate on ladder. The coin polarization matters mostly in the mirrors of Aerondights. Devotion SY was simply viewed as more reliable than Golden Nekker SY and Self-Wound is both more consistent and has better matchups than GN Flurry SK in my opinion. That’s it.
  • In Monsters and Nilfgaard, decks were almost exclusively Golden Nekker. GN decks seems to be the best indeed in those factions although you could still play non-GN on ladder with okay results. Vampires could go for Regis, Relicts could play Mammuna, Keltullis could opt for… – yeah, Keltullis. What surprised me recently is that the most efficient NG score on ladder (2600+!) in the last season was Shupe Assimilate (charts) netdecked from Shinmiri early in the season.


Thanks for reading!

Qualifying for an Open is a great feeling and I’m happy to chill up to late season grind and write something more for leriohub. Let me know if having any ideas!

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