GWENT Guide: Part 1 – Round Strategies
Hi! I’m Jason Slama and welcome to this GWENT Guide This video will focus on helping you better understand the dynamics between the rounds in order to help you succeed. GWENT, being a best 2 of 3 means a match will last either 2 or 3 rounds. In order to make smart decisions in earlier rounds, it’s important to understand the later rounds, as this is where the impact of your early decisions will be most keenly felt. In a decisive round, neither player can afford to lose Both players are left with what they managed to save from previous rounds and must succeed with their remaining cards. 3 cards are drawn to help reinforce your hand from the start so the contents of your deck are of critical importance. Your remaining deck size will influence the odds of you drawing your stronger, higher provision cards. Even if you don’t immediately draw your champions, having fewer cards in your deck also increases the chances that your mulligans will grant you that higher provision finisher required to win the match. Cards that play or remove cards from your deck, such as Wild Hunt Riders are often referred to as thinning cards. Most successful decks contain at least one or two thinning combos in their deck. Why? For one, they are typically worth a respectable amount of points in themselves. More importantly, when played successfully in earlier rounds, they reduce the number of cards in your deck reducing the chances that you will be stuck with undesired cards later on. Some decks try to thin themselves to the point where you can actually play your entire deck and are referred to as hyperthin decks. Once card draws and mulligans are done, things become somewhat more straightforward. Both players deploy all their cards in the best order possible. There really is no reason for players not to play all their cards at this point. Victory at this stage often comes down to what you managed to save in previous rounds. The player who managed to save stronger cards or keep a stronger combo often takes the match. Now let’s move on to Round 2 which is much more complex when it comes to scenarios and decision making. If Round 1 ended in a tie, both players need to win Round 2 and thus this round becomes a decisive round exactly like Round 3. In this scenario, both players throw everything they have at each other. There is no holding back. Otherwise, Round 2 is quite different for both players. The winner of the first round is in the driver’s seat. The loser must keep playing cards until the winner passes or opens him or herself to defeat. This dynamic opens the door for the winner to “bleed” the opponent. When we say a player is bleeding another opponent, it typically does not refer to the status seen on some cards. In this scenario, the player who won the first round does not play this round with high expectations of winning. Instead, he continues to play cards to try and force his opponent to use his more powerful cards and combos so they are unavailable in the 3rd, decisive round. When bleeding, it is often best to play your least valuable cards which are often your low provision bronzes. be careful here as some decks rely on their bronzes to perform powerful combos and in that case it might be better to throw down a more seemingly powerful gold card. Bleeding can backfire, however, since it is possible for your opponent to keep their score higher without committing as many cards as you. This could leave you with a severe disadvantage if you end up with fewer cards in round 3. Despite the risks, knowing when and how to bleed your opponent successfully can be critical to success, especially against decks that thrive in a long decisive round. A deck that favors a long round is one that has a lot of “engine cards” hat gain value the longer they are on the board. If you notice your opponent is playing more cards that grow in value over time such as the svalblood priest, while playing little destroy or damage cards against you, chances are your opponent’s deck will get its best value in a long round. One important aspect of Round 2 is that you should keep track of your hand size. If you have 7 or more cards in your hand when you pass, you will be guaranteed to have 10 cards in the next decisive round. Since a player’s hand can never be more than 10 cards, this ensures that your opponent will not have card advantage over you. Card advantage is gained when a user has more cards that his opponent at the start of a round. While this does not guarantee victory, he user with more cards at the start of the final card will be granted two significant advantages. The most obvious is the player with the most cards will have extra card’s worth of points to play. The other advantage gained is known as last say. A player has last say when the final turn of the round will be theirs. This is an advantage since your opponent will never have a chance to react to the card played in this turn and thus cannot react to this card. Therefore they typically cannot destroy or damage it. Victory is often achieved by saving a very strong card or powerful combo as for your last say. An example of such a combo is keeping Dagur Two-Blades, which gains 1 point every time an enemy is damaged as your last say card and combining it with a way to do burst damage such as the Reckless Fury leader ability for Skellige which deals 1 damage 8 times. This combo gives you a 20 point play that cannot be interrupted by your opponent. If you tried this combo early in a round, your opponent could use a card like Geralt of Rivia to remove your Dagur Two Blades which would be a whopping 15 point counter-play undoing your awesome combo pretty decisively. When the winner is playing in round 2, it is also popular to dry pass when they start the round with 7 or less cards. Dry passing is when the winner of the first round passes at the start of the second round without playing any cards. Since your opponent is typically forced to play a card to win this round, his often helps the winner recover from card disadvantage from the first round so that they can start the decisive round with an equal number of cards but more importantly, last say. A common mistake is for players to dry pass when they have 8 or more cards in their hand. At this point, playing a card does NOT affect who has card advantage or last say in the next round. But, by playing cards, a player can do 1-2 things. First, they can try setting up some less critical engines. If your opponent believes you will pass regardless at 7 cards, they might not react strongly to these cards and not remove them, opening the door to actually play Round 2 with the goal of winning. Secondly, you might want to play 1 or 2 of your more powerful cards. If your opponent once again starts playing for a longer round (or doesn’t), he might play his initially weaker engine cards leaving him too far behind to efficiently take the round after you pass. Let’s do an example, let’s say I have 9 cards and my opponent has 10. I’m down by one, because I won the 1st round. I open by playing an Arachas Nest with the Arachas Swarm leader ability creating me 5 1-power drones. My opponent answers by playing a low cost engine such as Haymaey Protector which gains power every time a neighbour is damaged. I am now winning by 1 point but my opponent knows he can safely play 2 more cards while I only 1. So I go big, I use 2 charges of Archas Swarm to spawn 2 more drones and follow it by playing Caranthir to spawn a Kikimore Queen which, being set to 1 power by Caranthir, immediately boosts itself from Caranthir’s power and additionally boosts all my drones by 1. Ok that was a bit of a complex combo but the point is, I now have 19 points VS my opponent’s 4. He now has to make 14 points with his next 2 cards or risk going into round 3 with card disadvantage f he plays something big and closes the gap, I pass knowing I forced him to play something more powerful and potentially breaking some of his combos for the next round. If he plays something smaller such as Dimun Light Longship, I would consider following up with a strong combo card such as Yennefer of Vengerberg which would boost all units by 2. Every turn you must decide whether to keep pushing and bleeding your opponent or pass and hope he either sacrifices key cards he had planned for round 3, or enter Round 3 at a card disadvantage to catch up. Let’s move one to the round 1. With a better understanding of some key concepts in rounds 2 and 3, it’s much easier to delve into the decisions available in Round 1. Since the match continues whether you win or lose this round, Victory is not critical for either player. This is often why advanced players weigh carefully the value of every card they play in this round. Let’s start by understanding how your decisions evolve as your hand shrinks. Since in all subsequent rounds you draw 3 cards, you CAN play the first 3 cards from your hand without risking giving your opponent card advantage in later rounds. Thus, it is almost never to your advantage to pass with 8 or more cards in your hand. Another hand size milestone to consider in round 1 is when you reach 4 cards. If you pass and win round 1 with 4 cards in hand, you will be able to dry pass in round 2. This situation can be favorable as you can easily get Last Say though without gaining card advantage in this scenario. Though tempting, it is not always wise to use your tactical advantage on your first turn. This opens your first played unit to potentially become vulnerable to high power removal card such as Geralt of Rivia. However, since tactical advantage does not persist into later rounds, it is advised to use it when you believe you are more likely to pass in the next turn as otherwise it will be needlessly wasted. This is why when playing your third card, you should start considering whether you intend to play further into the round to determine whether you play Tactical advantage or not. Since being the victor of the first round leaves you with more tactical options, it is often advantageous to win the first round. However, over-committing to winning a round for victory is often a bad idea. Over-committing is when you play very strong cards or combos in this first round, especially when already winning and don’t need to. This means your best plays will no longer be available for you in later rounds. Generally, when possible, it is wise to play weaker, lower provision cards in earlier rounds. This is especially true when you are already winning as if you take a large lead, your opponent is not forced to also play his stronger cards. He can simply pass and keep his stronger combos for later rounds giving him an advantage. On the flip side, if you see that your opponent is heavily investing in the first round, it can be wise to keep playing your weaker cards to trick him into committing even more into the round. Lastly, lets dive into the dynamics that change depending on who goes first. The player going first has tactical advantage for a reason. Every card played can be counter played by your opponent. If the player going second, he can keep going just 1 more point than his opponent, it leaves the first player in a tricky situation. If the first player passes while losing, especially as cards go below the draw thresholds, there is a higher risk that he will enter the third round with both card disadvantage and without last say. When going first, it is generally better to either win the round OR pass when your opponent failed to play as many points as you. There are many more subtleties and strategies when it comes to playing GWENT. Not always the scenarios presented are the right options. However, hopefully, these concepts presented today will help you dig deeper and learn how to turn the dynamics between the rounds to your advantage. When deciding what card to play, or whether to continue in the first place, make sure to keep focus on what you will do in later rounds. It can be easy to make decisions solely based on trying to go for card advantage or last say in the decisive round. True mastery comes to those who can strategize right from the start, and adapt to what their opponent reveals to them. Remember that, like you, your opponent is juggling which round to commit their points to.