It’s been less than a week since Gwent: The Witcher Card Game underwent full release and we already have a meta shaping up. With Homecoming, Gwent has added multiple new concepts to the competitive card game including Provisions for deck building, new Artifact cards, new unit effects called Orders, new card archetypes like Bloodthirst, and row-specific deploy effects. Homecoming is an entirely new card game, and it can be a steep learning curve for even seasoned Gwent veterans. Fear not! After speaking with several of my teammates here at Team Rankstar and spending many hours playing and watching Gwent over the past week, I feel like I am in a good position to write about what to look forward to, what to watch out for, and how to approach the new version of Gwent.
I would love to jump directly into decks that have made their mark early in this new Gwent meta and how to play them, but I think it’s more important to acknowledge how the fundamental changes to the card game has changed how players approach their deckbuilding and how they approach Gwent’s unique three-round strategy.
In this new era of Gwent, early tempo is important but not round-winning or even game-winning. Instead, Gwent has become a game where long rounds matter most. Due to high card draw at the beginning of every round and the 10 card hand limit, players should no longer feel concern if they fall behind in tempo early in a round and they have to go down two cards to win round 1. Why? Because you will draw 3 cards at the beginning of round 2 and 3 and you have a 10 card hand limit. As an example, if you win round 1 at 4 cards and your opponent has 6, you will have 7 cards and they will have 9 in round 2. If you drypass round 2, you will both be at 10 cards by round 3, essentially regaining the card advantage you had lost previously. (Note: you should always consider the deck you are playing and playing against when deciding to win round 1 or drypass round 2.)
Therefore, many of the currently strong decks in the game now no longer care about short round tempo finishers, and instead have a way to develop more points than their opponent in a long round. Keep in mind that the shortest round 3 that will ever happen in Homecoming Gwent will be 3 cards!
Winning strategies involve those with the best, uninterruptible long round strategies. With early round 1 tempo feeling insignificant, setting up multiple engine or strategy development pieces for a good long round in the first few turns of a round is easy and stronger. In come artifacts.
Now that players have understood this new strategy that Homecoming Gwent requires, artifacts are huge in the meta. Why? The fact that artifacts are not units makes them invulnerable to locks and damage, which are the traditional ways your opponent could advance their strategy while hindering your own. Without having much of a drawback, artifact cards such as Mastercrafted Spear are perfect cards for setting up a good long round. Many of the strong decks in the current meta run artifacts and unit removal so that they can stall Round 1, force their opponent to lose value over time, waste their opponent’s tempo, and catch up in 1-3 cards after their opponent has passed. As I mentioned above, going down several cards isn’t the end of the world because you will draw 3 more at the beginning of round 2 and 3.
Therefore, something to look forward to and something to watch out for in the coming weeks of Gwent is more artifact-centric decks until the meta slowly shifts away from artifacts. (Given how prevalent and overwhelming artifacts are at the moment, it almost feels as if Gwent is trying to subconsciously get us to despise the name of a soon-to-release competitor…)
So enough about new mechanics and meta aspects of the game. Let’s talk about 15 decks that have risen prominence over the past week! Before we start, it’s worth noting that most of these decks are un-optimized and are simply a good starting point for this meta: they are not perfect by any means.
Surprise! Greatswords are still in the meta, albeit in a different form. Greatswords now have the effect of old Axemen, and Dagur has Derran’s old effect. This deck focuses on setting up a Greatsword or two on the row across from your opponents units, and then pinging them with Mastercrafted Spears, Dimun Warships or Savage Bears. Additionally, there are some weather effects such as Dragon’s Dream and Ragh Nar Roog, that excel in long round situations and may even push the opponent out of the round. This deck has some discard elements in it too.
The focus of this deck is to put as many Beast-tag units in the graveyard for hefty Bearmaster finishers. With strong discard elements in Kambi, Birna Bran and Heymaey Skald, this deck is able to draw consistently while putting down solid numbers in its units and not having any interruptible engines on the board. Round 3 involves putting down Bearmasters to boost an allied beast for around 10 points, sending it to the graveyard with Raging Bear, and then repeating the Bearmaster effect with Freya’s Blessing.
This deck’s weakness lies in Graveyard hate cards such as Xavier Lemmens, but if the graveyard goes untouched, this deck is consistent and capable of putting a lot of points on the board.
This deck is focused on using Lippy Gudmund’s interesting effect of swapping your graveyard with your deck. This deck was built to abuse usage of high provision cost cards, in this particular deck build cards like Ragh Nar Roog combined with movement can be used twice in a game with Lippy’s effect.
Weaknesses include graveyard hate such as Xavier Lemmens and inconsistency with draws.
This deck was developed by Gnurrgard from CCG.
Golden Froth Discard
While Golden Froth is still a 9 provision bronze with an 18-point ceiling, expect to see this card played to its maximum potential. This particular deck focuses on quickly putting down enough bodies on a row with cards like Germain, Harald and the Witchers to max out Golden Froth value and then replay it with Gremist. With discard elements in Birna Bran and Heymaey Skald, it is able to play consistently, and even has a 20 point finisher in the Dagur + Harald leader combo.
This deck is strong against midrange decks with its massive point potential, but will struggle against decks that line up units for scorch, epidemic, igni, schirru, and other burn effects. Additionally, it is weak to strong row damaging effects like Regis, and decks like Greatswords will take advantage of this deck’s row stacking.
Brandishing Scorch, Schirru, and Epidemic, this control deck focuses on lining up opponents’ units for massive point swings and excels at stopping the opponent from achieving any of their deck synergies. Eithne’s ability to use individual pings along with several artifacts in this deck help line up the global burn effects Scoia’tael has always been known for.
This deck’s weakness is strong artifact removal cards such as White Frost, which is not very prevalent in the meta. However, smart opponents can use well-timed individual artifact removal to slow down this deck’s control and effective bleeding to deny this deck’s final-say win condition.
With plenty of cards having row-specific effects, and plenty of long round powerful row-damaging effects, movement has made an entrance as a strong archetype. Movement can be a soft control against some engine cards with row-specific effects such as Dagur, She-Troll and Foltest’s Pride. Row effects will grind your opponents’ units down over long rounds, and weather clears are not included in meta lists yet.
Weaknesses include bleeding in round 2 and weather clears, but weather clears are nowhere to be seen in this current meta, so expect to see this deck become more prevalent.
MO Control (Woodland Spell Control)
A control deck in Monsters? You’ve read that correctly. This spell-based, low-unit count deck focuses on using artifacts and control spells to wear down the opponent over a long round and then win the round with above-average point plays in the Witcher Trio and a Woodland Spirit-boosted Immune unit. With Predatory Dive being a monster faction specific card for spot removal and an artifact core capable of lining up huge board-wide burn effects with Scorch and Epidemic, this deck is poised to be the strongest control deck in this current meta.
Naturally White Frost and Artifact removal are strong counters to this deck, but this control list is also susceptible to bleeding. This deck requires final say to win most games, so its main vulnerability is losing card advantage.
Eredin over Unseen Elder may seem like a peculiar choice for a Deathwish-centric deck, however his synergy with Caranthir to play Ge’els more than once and give it immune is invaluable in this deck. The extra mulligan from Eredin is a bonus! The deathwish bronze core involves playing and activating deathwish effects multiple times with Ge’els, consume triggers, and deathwish triggers, and the gold cards provide a variety of deathwish effects to deal with threats.
Deathwish may have one of the strongest long rounds in the game, however this deck’s weakness lies in its draws. Unfortunately, deathwish struggles with balancing the right amount of triggers and deathwish units in the starting hand, so the extra mulligan from Eredin is very useful. In a similar vein, resource management of both units with deathwish and units that activate deathwish is very important to play this deck optimally, as this deck is very susceptible to being bled in round 2 if it loses round 1.
This decklist was provided by Sevenzh
Woodland Spirit Giants
This deck combines high strength giant units with low strength Thrive units for consistent above average point plays. With a strong medium round, it aims to get the shortest round 3 possible as it has some of the strongest finishers in the game with Ghouls and Ozzrel consuming Old Speartip and other tall units in the graveyard.
With consistently strong plays, this deck can stand on its own against control decks and smart players can effectively bleed their opponents to achieve its win condition of a short round 3. However, this deck can lose to effective board-wide burn effects like Igni and Scorch, especially if it doesn’t achieve last say in round 3.
This decklist was provided by Sevenzh
Monsters Arachas Golden Froth
This deck focuses on swarming the board with Arachas drones and using consume and large board wiping effects in conjunction with She-Troll to gain value from constantly killing and respawning the drones. Golden Froth, She-Troll, and Glustyworp provide huge value in medium to long rounds.
The strongest counter to this deck is Epidemic, which is heavily used in unit-less Artifact control lists. Other weaknesses include row punishment like Lacerate or Regis and the damage strategy of Greatswords. Artifact control poses a threat as well, but this list has included White Frost to deal with that threat. Additionally, due to lack of deck thinning and low mulligan count, this deck is at the mercy of its draws.
NR Swarm Golden Froth
A creation of our very own NoControl, this deck focuses on maximizing the amount of units created from the Blue Stripe Commando / Blue Stripe Scout combo to fill a row with units and then use Golden Froth + Zoltan: Scoundrel for massive point swings. Additionally, this deck runs Lyrian Scytheman to take advantage of the number of units that get boosted in this deck in the long round. With Princess Pavetta usage later in the game, a single Commando can order out the remaining 3 or 4 left in the deck in a single turn, almost completely filling up a row. Foltest’s high mulligan count and ability to activate Commandos immediately is a formidable and high tempo gameplan.
This deck has a very high point ceiling but is susceptible to board wide burn effects as the majority of the cards are 4 strength. Field Medics, Peasants and the Kaedweni Sergeant aid with un-aligning these burn effects, but those are limited in number. This deck also succumbs to bleeding if it doesn’t win round 1. Therefore it is suggested to use all your resources round 1 and attempt to force a 2-0 in round 2 with your high point value cards. This deck struggles against row punishing effects and Greatswords, but may still out-value these decks with Golden Froth.
Draug decks focus on putting a lot of human tag units on the board and playing Draug to transform them all into Revenants. Combined with Foltest for Zeal on Revenants, Ocvist and Seltkirk, this deck has some big effects that effectively turn into deploy abilities, circumventing the downside of Orders abilities. This version of the list has boost synergies to provide long round value.
With many swarm elements and engine pieces, this deck is vulnerable to locks, movement, and global burn effects, however, small techs like Mahakam Ale and Avallac’h can help counteract these targeted effects. This deck has a relatively weak short round so it is also vulnerable to being bled.
With Morvran’s ability and the new version of the Reveal mechanic, Reveal has made a return to the meta. Putting down a Mangonel and boosting it with Morvran to gain value from almost every single bronze in the deck allows for constant and consistent value over all 3 rounds. The Sweers finisher is formidable as well, often reaching 10+ damage value from all the reveals throughout the game. It’s worth noting that some versions of this list focus on maximizing Slave Infantry Value by playing Germain Piquant for the allied Cows.
This list was provided by LordBushWook
Tibor Spell Reveal
This list focuses on targeted control with spells and running a low unit count to maximize value from revealing Tibor Eggebracht constantly. With the Ihuarraquax-Tibor combo finisher, this deck is not vulnerable to long round control strategies, however it could struggle with bleeding swarm decks.
This list was made and optimized by Lewt from CCG.
Midrange Emyhr Witchers
This deck is known for outputting steady tempo in later round with the witchers by playing Vesemir: Mentor and then repeating his ability by using Emhyr. Additionally, it is good at controlling the opponent’s strategy with cards like Rot Tosser and Alba Armored Cavalry. An additional consideration is exploiting Isbel of Hagge to get card advantage after your opponent has passed.
Being a midrange deck, this deck struggles against heavy control and heavy swarm lists, but does well against decks with multiple engine pieces due to its cheap bronze controlling units.
And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the current Gwent meta. Stay tuned for updates on the Homecoming meta in your bi-weekly Meta Monday posts! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below!
Thanks so much to my fellow Rankstars Sevenzh, NoControl, OnlyFishy, LordBushWook, and JeffTan for their suggestions, experience and perspectives as well as for being stellar and supportive teammates!
You can find DrGrrrr on Twitter and Twitch.
Use the code “TRS12” to get 12% off your order at InkedGaming.com and support Team Rankstar directly!