“That’s OP, please nerf!” is a common cry for help within the Gwent community. A certain feature is oppressive and ruining the game for many, so the developers tone it down and everyone moves onto complaining about the next overpowered mechanic like the creatures of habit we are.
But sometimes, we look back on them with a twinkle of nostalgia in our eyes. Sure, it was oppressive, but damn was it fun! So, with Gwent approaching its first anniversary, there’s no better time to look back at how far the game has come. Prepare to experience PTSD style flashbacks as we present 7 of Gwent’s most overpowered cards and combos that were torture to play against but damn fun to play with.
1: The Henselt/Margarita Golden Finisher
Henselt’s 7 promotions, combined with the Northern Realms faction ability of boosting all gold units by 2, was an impressive 14 point play. However, that wasn’t the problem. It was when combined with Margarita Laux-Antille that sent shivers down our spines whenever we queued into a Henselt player. She would spawn an Aretuza Adept (a 3 strength token) on a random row whenever a gold card appeared on your side. Add that to Henselt’s ability and you’re easily looking at a 35 point play in two turns, perhaps the most insane finisher in the Closed Beta. Try catching that at the end of round 3.
2: Geralt’s Weather Bamboozle
Picture the scene. It’s round 3, you’ve an army of units on your range row and your opponent just can’t make up the point deficit. It’s looking good. But then it comes – Aeromancy, spawning a weather of choice. But wait, what was that? A miss-click? Haha, they played it on the row BEHIND my units, I’ve won! He’s going to forfeit… why isn’t he rage quitting?
“Not your lucky day,” comes Geralt’s signature quote on deploy. And how right he was. Geralt: Aard would push your units straight into that Torrential Rain. When combined with old weather reducing everything to 1, Geralt Aard was the ninja of the Closed Beta; by the time you saw him coming, it was too late.
3: Follow the Trail of Medics
Field Medics are now considered to be an RNG card (shuffling a bronze ally back into your deck and then playing a random bronze unit from your deck) but they were once auto-include for Northern Realms. Thanks to their ability to resurrect a random bronze unit from your graveyard, they could easily hit a chain that mimicked a dozen clowns exiting a small car. Imagine resurrecting a Reaver Scout, which played another Field Medic, pulling a second Reaver Scout followed by another Medic and finishing off with a Reinforced Trebuchet. Your turn, try and catch that. Nope, not even close. GG.
4: All aboard the Nilfgaardian Tempo Train
While John Calveit’s ability hasn’t changed – he still looks at the top three cards in your deck and plays one – the Imperial Golems have been reworked. Previously, they had the “Orders” tag, playing themselves from the deck whenever you deployed your leader.
Oh, you lost the coinflip so have to go first? No problem. John Calveit would hit the board with a trio of Golems in tow. Let’s see those top three. I’ll play Cahir, out comes Roach, and looks like Ciri wants to join the party, too. It’s only the first turn of the game and your opponent is already 20 points behind. That’s a safe pass if I ever saw one.
5: The Great Skellige Savage Bear Parade
No matter how many Alzur’s Thunders you tech into your deck, these beasts just kept coming. Savage Bears made playing cards that spawned tokens a liability and, because they were part of the Skellige faction, you knew they were only a Priestess of Freya away from returning to the board.
Even killing them came with a price. If they were sent to the graveyard, they would still deal the damage to whatever unit shut them down. Savage!
6: Ambush Scoia’tael: Face Down with the Enemy
Ambush Scoia’tael may still a thing, but back in the Closed Beta you couldn’t interact with face down (ambush) cards, which led to a lot of guess work as you tried to determine what had been played. When you guessed wrong, you’d lose your turn.
Schirru was the biggest offender. Oh, you wanted to clear the weather I just spawned? Nope. Sorry, that’s your turn over. While I’m at it, I’ll remove those two 12 strength units of yours. In the words of Schirru himself, “Oh, how lovely, it burns.”
7: Carryover that carries you to victory
Ask any competitive Gwent player what used to wake them in the night in a pool of chilled sweat, and they’ll stammer the word, “Mon-monsters.”
Playing against Monsters has always been a test of will, but back when faction abilities were a thing, it was less a test of will and more of a dash across No Man’s Land into a Merigold’s Hailstorm of bullets. Whenever the round ended, the last played Monster card would remain on the board. Okay, you can’t win round one? No problem, just pass. Don’t push yourself. Oh, wait – they have a 70 strength Vran Warrior on the board. Time to panic! All Monster cards may as well have been wearing Thug Life sunglasses. You knew the 2-0 was coming. Deal with it.