On Wednesday, November 5th, 2018 CDPR released their first hotfix to the Gwent Homecoming cardpool. This was in response to the oppressive artifact control decks and froth-abusing decks that were driving players’ salt levels through the roof. With the hotfix, CDPR increased the cost of several cards including Sihil, Mastercrafted Spear, Golden Froth and Zoltan: Scoundrel. For the full hotfix announcement, please visit the official Gwent website. In this article, we’ll quickly go through what the hotfix changes mean for the meta and then share decklists of both prominent and up-and-coming deck builds.
Nov 27th update: More decks have been added to this current meta and are included in this most recent update! Check them out here.
Let’s address the most important question first: after the hotfix, are people still running artifact decks? Yes and no. The good news first: due to the increased provision cost of many of these artifact cards, the so called “unit-less” epidemic and artifact decks are no longer possible. If someone does manage to build a close-to-unit-less artifact deck within 165 provisions, they will struggle with the amount of points they can achieve in total. As a suggestion just in case you run into someone who attempts this: make sure to bleed round 2 and have a short round 3! Therefore, we can effectively say that gone are the days of queueing into unit-less artifact control deck after unit-less artifact control deck.
The bad news: now that artifacts are no longer the meta-deck-to-beat, artifacts can still be an effective and unpleasant surprise. It may seem like a good idea to simply remove any artifact-removal cards you may be running to open up provisions for more synergistic cards. However, as many of the decklists below show, having 1 artifact-removal card is still valuable. Be vilgilant! Some decks will still run a few artifacts and some may even run Sihil to surprise you, so use your artifact-removal cards wisely!
In summary, the result of the hotfix is net positive for players enjoyment of the game. With control being toned down slightly, there is room for several new decks to grow. Engine decks can now begin to overwhelm control decks, so they are beginning to surface and may even rise to prominence in the meta over the next several weeks. Similarly, previously countered cards like Ciri, are also seeing a rise in their play rate because there aren’t enough locks or removal being run to counter them.
Moving away from artifact nerfs, there were several other cards that received provision cost increases. Of particular note are Golden Froth and Zoltan: Scoundrel, cards that were able to achieve 18 or 20 points maximum for the cheap provision cost of 9 or 12, respectively. Now, Froth is 13 provisions and Scoundrel is 15, making them very expensive and tough to build around. Their nerf effectively makes them non-meta and common techs such as Geralt: Yrden have started seeing lower playrates as well.
With the fall of Golden Froth and Zoltan: Scoundrel, other high value cards have found a place in the new meta. In the following decklists you will find high provision high value cards such as Commander’s Horn, Schirru, Wild Boar of the Sea, Wolfsbane and Geralt: Professional due to their very high ceiling of point potential. Many decks will try to take full advantage of this high ceiling by running leaders with flexible individual damage “pings” such as Eithne and Crach an Craite. Additionally, these particular leaders have a higher amount of mulligans as they are able to play more consistently, contributing to their popularity.
Below are 20 decks that are making their mark on the meta along with short blurbs on how they are played. Thanks for reading and enjoy the plethora of options currently available in Gwent! (Keep in mind that these decks may not be fully optimized and that the meta is still shifting quickly.)
Stay tuned for updates on the Homecoming meta in your bi-weekly Meta Tuesday posts! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks so much to my fellow Rankstars Sevenzh, LordBushWook, JeffTan, and WatchFlake as well as Gnurrgard and Argeiphontes from Complexity Card Gaming and DGThunderer from Team Leviathan Gaming for their suggestions, experience and perspectives!
Crach Boar + Wolfsbane
Wolfsbane and Wild Boar of the Sea are two very powerful cards that have recently found the spotlight and are currently hogging all of it. With Crach pings and Light Longship for both bloodthirst activation and odd/even lineup, this deck is extremely potent in the long round. If you haven’t encountered this list yet, you will, very very soon. Flaminica is a strong consideration as you can expect to run into the mirror frequently. Additionally, some lists switch out Ciri for other 8 provision cards such as Dorregaray for a lock or Svanrige for a value 11 points on 8 provisions.
Very high tempo and the ability to reuse its cards is the beauty of this Lippy deck. It has an extremely strong round 1 with Wild Boar, Wolfsbane, Roach, and Witchers, and it is able to keep tempo while finding strong cards consistently with the discard Skellige package in Birna and Skald. It also has a very good bleeding round 2, so it is very capable of beating every deck in the current meta by forcing out their finishers in round 1 or 2. Its main weakness is its own draws, but it can also struggle artifact heavy decks and it can even shoot itself in its foot by mistiming Lippy and overdrawing for an awkward round 3. With lots of skill and a little luck, be prepared to go on crazy win streaks with this creation. Thanks to Gnurrgard and Argeiphontes from Complexity Card Gaming for creating and optimizing this deck.
In his unique spin of the popular Wolfsbane/Wild Boar deck, our very own LordBushWook has been having massive success by utilizing Kambi’s ability to maximum potential. With Kambi you can force card advantage in round 2 after your opponent has passed or remove your opponents finisher as your second to last play in round 3. Its controversial ability only remains strong if it stays niche however, because people will learn to play around it if it becomes popular. Regardless, a skillful player can take this decklist far, especially while it hides under the shadow of the more popular Crach bloodthirst deck shown above.
Greatswords has fallen in playrate due to the Wolfsbane/Boar decks being extremely popular, however it has great potential. This deck can put a lot of points on the board, especially because weather clears are very non-meta. The discard package allows it play consistently, and the weather and movement options can keep tempo while Greatswords can stay tucked away safely in hand until the last few turns of a round, when they accrue decent value. With some further optimization this deck will be a formidable force in the meta, although it may be a difficult deck to pilot.
This deck needs a long round to achieve maximum value, so it struggles against high tempo decks.
Discard + Beasts is still a very strong point slam deck. With the discard package in Birna, Skald and Morkvarg / Skrimishers along plenty of secondary beast discard targets such as Phoenix and Wolf Pack, this deck easily thins to 1 or 0 while advancing its game plan of playing huge Bearmaster finishers. However, it is heavily countered by one card that is easily run in any deck: Xavier Lemmens. Therefore, it is not run frequently right now as many players would prefer not to run the risk of randomly losing against decks that just happen to have the card that completely counters your whole game plan. This deck also struggles against scorch decks, but scorch has a low playrate at the moment.
Without any hotfix nerfs, Woodland Giants remains a strong decklist that is only more and more optimized as time goes on and players are able to figure out the best way to play it. It therefore still has the same strengths and weaknesses as it did before, however, unit-less artifact decks are no longer around to terrorize its every play. It still struggles against well-timed Xaviers, Ignis, Yrdens and Scorches, but it can effectively win round 1 and force a short round 3 if played well.
Consume has the highest point ceiling of any decklist in the game, however it has a lot of moving parts that are all needed to achieve the fabled maximum, and unfortunately it has been struggling in this meta. However if it is able to run unhinged, Forktails and Glustyworp combined with Vran Warriors can attain incredible amounts of points in a long round with Arachas Queen’s effect. While this decklist can be fun to play, I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart.
WIth Monster artifacts no longer viable, weather and movement have popped up in monsters. This particular deck uses strong row punishment plays along with movement in order to control and wear down their opponent. It is favored in long rounds while still having decent short round plays in witchers and the Woodland Spirit ability. This decklist was created by the streamer Shinmiri2.
Eithne is still around and has a strong list to backup her powerful leader ability. Elf swarm is able to control and disrupt their opponent’s gameplan while putting down enough proactive points through the elf synergies with Aelirenn, Yaevinn, and Milva. Additionally, Call of the Forest is an incredibly useful card in this deck as it will find important round-winning cards while replaying Aelirenn or only sacrificing 2 points in a Neophyte. Lastly, this deck’s finisher is a force to be reckoned with: Schirru along with Eithne’s pings to line up perfect targets. This deck prefers long rounds to develop its swarm capabilities while also maximizing Schirru and Wolfsbane value, so it is vulnerable to bleeding in Round 2. Some Elf Swarm lists run Regis instead of Igni, but either choice is matchup dependent.
A list created by our own Sevenzh, this is a unique deck that runs a similar gameplan as the elf swarm list, however it places more emphasis on the control aspect of the deck rather than the elf synergy. It has the ability of pulling off stronger swings with Schirru both because it runs thunderbolts and less units. Additionally, it has a more reliable Call of the Forest due to the target being an early round Roach rather than mid-to-late round Aelirenn. Beware, this is another list that is extremely difficult to pilot as your gameplan is very matchup dependent.
With more decks consistently running units, this Francesca control deck is an excellent counter to many strategies. Francesca’s ability to replay a spell from the graveyard gives her huge utility and flexibility with expensive cards like Ragh Nar Roog, Royal Decree and Scorch. Double scorching can be excellent against tall unit decks or for board wipes. Two Ragh Nar Roogs can accrue massive value over two long rounds. With this flexibility it’s easy to tailor your gameplan to your opponents weaknesses and thus Francesca Control can find space in the meta. Some MVPs include Mastercrafted spears as well as some of the Scoia’tael bronze core to help line up huge value for the high provision cost finishers cards in this deck such as Regis and Scorch. This list was inspired by our very own WatchFlake’s creation.
Draug Foltest remains one of the strongest NR decks in the meta currently. With the addition of the Blue Stripes Commando + Blue Stripes Scout + Princess Pavetta combo, this deck is able to consistently swarm the board with humans and convert them all to Revenants with Draug’s effect in Round 1, 2 or 3. Additionally the Zeal from Ves, Temerian Drummer and Foltest help activate the strong Orders abilities of Seltkirk, Ocvist and Seaesenthessis: Blaze immediately. With Revenants + Sabrina Glevissig as a strong finisher, this deck is very potent in the right hands.
Once again, my teammate LordBushWook put his own spin on the Draug deck shell. Instead of focusing on Draug, he decided to combine the NR boost archetype into his build. With artifacts Wvyern Scale Shield able to find good value on Tridam Infantry and Mastercrafted Spear able to set up good targets for Revenants, this deck takes some of the strengths of the classic Draug deck and turns it into something that is less disruptable by control. This deck was particularly created by LordBushWook for favorable matchups in Pro Ladder, so it may be difficult to pilot effectively.
This deck is a good example of a engine deck that is able to persevere through the control that exists right now. It requires a good amount of knowledge of the opponents deck to bait out removal and control with small threats such as Reinforced Ballista or Tridam Infantry before taking the round and/or game with even bigger threats such as Foltest’s Pride. Expect to see decks like this gradually rise in prominence in the meta as they find more favorable matchups. This particular list is the brainchild of DGThunderer from Team Leviathan Gaming, and here’s the full deckguide by DGThunderer himself.
In recognizing that Wolfsbane and Wild Boar are going to prominent in the meta, a strong counter to them is Boost NR. With its ability to unalign its own units and take units from the damaged status to the boosted status, it is able to deny or reduce Wolfsbane and outright deny Wild Boar damage. Additionally, it can proactively play around board-wide burn effects such as Schirru despite Eithne and all of Scoia’tael having seemingly unlimited pings. With some further optimization this list can find its niche in the current meta. This particular list was created by Tereg, and you can find his guide here.
Tempo focuses on maximizing Slave Infantry value while using the strong Reveal bronze package to consistently output tempo.Generally strong against control decks, this deck doesn’t have any inherent weaknesses other than RNG from reveals. However, it does struggle against popular board-wide damaging cards in a long round such as Schirru, Wild Boar and Wolfsbane.
Peter Saar Gwynleve is a good tech choice to counter heavy damage or reset a Ghoul, Ozzrel or Weavess. Treason usually finds at least 8 points in most matchups now that unit-less artifact decks are close to non-existent.
With a strong reveal bronze core and many high value cards, Reveal Witchers returns as a strong tempo deck. With a total of 9 witchers, Vesemir: Mentor is able to achieve a total of 13 points for the 10 provisions he costs. A fairly strong midrange deck, this deck is definitely recommended for beginners.
Reveal Card Advantage
Nilfgaard is definitely home to some of the more “broken” decks, and this particular deck is a perfect example of this. With the strong reveal bronze core carrying it, it is able to fit in these card advantage cards. It runs Ciri, Ciri: Dash and Isbel of Hagge, which are all cards that can be utilized to seize card advantage if unanswered by your opponent. Additionally, it runs Letho: Kingslayer to copy and ideally repeat the effect of Ciri: Dash or Isbel of Hagge. Against decks that require last say to win, this is very effective, however many players already know how to sniff out these cards and will save answers for them, so if you do run this deck, don’t expect to get away with your stolen card advantage every game.
This deck is possibly the only semi-viable deck with Shupe, as his power level doesn’t seem to be as strong as he was in Beta. Emhyr hard carries this deck with the ability to pick up Shupe and repeat his chosen ability. A warning before you play this deck: not only does it require good knowledge of how to play around your opponent’s deck and knowing the perfect time to pass, the deck is inherently vulnerable to RNG. Here are the Shupe effects as an easy reference (after you choose one of the base strength cards it will randomly show you 3 random selected effects from the 5 options of that card):
- Mage – 2 base power unit
- Spawn a random row effect on every row
- Deal 13 damage randomly split between all other units
- Move a unit to the opposite row
- Spawn and summon a random unit to a random row on each side
- Transform the rightmost card in each player’s hand into a random special card
- Hunter – 4 base power unit
- Split 9 damage randomly between all enemy units
- Play a random card from your deck
- Destroy a random enemy
- Apply a random row effect to an enemy row
- Boost all units in your hand between 1 and 2 power (Each unit in your hand gets boosted by either 1 or 2, I thought the wording was a little unclear)
- Knight – 8 base power unit
- Boost an ally by 4
- Damage an enemy by 4
- Gain resilience
- Lock a unit
- Destroy an enemy artifact