How To Pick the Best Card in the Keg

With the new update to Gwent, many of the games fundamental mechanics have dramatically changed. I recently wrote a guide on The Slightly Better Way to Open Kegs which is now completed outdated, so I thought I’d take a look at writing a new one. Due to playing the beta a fair bit, I had unlocked enough achievements to buy around 100 kegs straight out of the gates, which allowed me to do a fair bit of experimentation so that you don’t have to. If you’ve felt anxious about making the wrong choice when picking that fifth card, read this guide and hopefully it will help you make those decisions a little easier.

Note that if you played the beta and have hundreds of thousands of scraps lying around, this guide doesn’t really apply to you – just buy any cards you want and save your ore for a special event.

 

So first things first: everything’s different. There are no more silver cards, just bronze and gold. You can have as many gold cards as you want in a deck (so long as you have at least 25 cards total and the rest of your cards fit within the capacity limit), and you can only have two bronze duplicates in your starting deck at any one time.
Why does this matter? Because it changes which cards are a priority, and informs how many of each card to get.

Let’s talk about the mechanics of kegs. Here’s an example of one I opened recently:

GWENT: The Witcher Card Game_20181205123558

See the brown and green indicators underneath the cards? Those refer to the number of standard (non-animated) and premium (animated) cards I already possess in my collection respectively. So in this case, including the cards I’ve just received I now have 3 standard Temerian Drummers, 2 premium Brokvar Hunters, 3 standard and 1 animated Trebuchets, and 3 standard Venedal Elites.

Here’s the all important next screen: picking the 5th card.

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You can see the same indicators underneath. The green diamond with the “!” indicates it’s a card I don’t yet have in my collection.

So which card do you prioritise? Here’s what I’d recommend.

 

1. Any premium card.

Surprisingly, the answer is not to immediately choose the card you don’t have yet. Premium cards are worth way more when you mill them than standard cards, so if your long term goal is to be able to access extra meteorite powder and scraps to craft your perfect deck I would pick the premium cards first. Note that unlike the beta, you can’t tell if any of the cards are animated until you move the cursor over them, so make sure to manually check each one before making your decision.

2. Cards that belong to the faction that you’re currently focusing on.

The new Gwent is absolutely huge; there are half a dozen viable strategies for any given faction. To minimise brain overload, I recommend picking one faction and focusing on building one working deck at a time. If you’ve only got one copy of a bronze card in your preferred faction (including neutral), go ahead and snatch up that duplicate.

3. Cards that you don’t have yet.

Assuming that one day you might want to have a large enough collection to build several decks from different factions, having every card in the game is not a bad starting point. Even if a card doesn’t seem like anything special on face value, maybe in combination with other cards it might just lead to some mindblowing strategies that no one else has thought of. I like to think that every card is useful in the right situation. And besides, if  ccard really is useless, there’s a good chance the devs will alter it in future updates to make it more viable.

4. The standard version of a premium card.

If you’ve got one premium version of a card, grab its standard counterpart. That way you’ll have one of each, and will be able to add two cards to your deck if you want to use them both as part of your strategy. You can have a maximum of two premium and two standard copies of each bronze card in your collection, or one of each gold.

5. Cards you only have one copy of.

Snap up those bronze duplicates. You can have a maximum of two premium and two standard copies of each bronze card in your collection, or one of each for gold.

6. Any other card.

Anything else is just going to get milled anyway, so don’t worry about what you pick. Rest assured that when you’re being shown three cards, they’re all equally valuable (rare or higher) so you can’t really make a wrong choice.

 

And that’s it! Doubtless they’ll release some major update in a few months that will make all of this outdated, but for the moment these are my best tips for making the smartest selections. May goodest cards you get, ‘uman deserve it!

Homecoming

Welp, it’s the end of an era. In about 24 hours, the Gwent beta as I know it will be ending, and all of the cards will be completely reworked and the gameplay mechanics majorly adjusted. I’ve played Gwent somewhat regularly over the past year or so, often playing every day between 30-60 minutes, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge what this game has meant to me. It’s been both an important coping mechanism, and a source of immense frustration as I’ve yoyo’d between winning and losing. As I’ve often told my wife, “The highs are highs and the lows are low.” I’m feeling bitter sweet about the new update that will change everything that I love about the game currently.

 

Overall, I didn’t do too badly on the competitive scene even though I would describe my dedication as “somewhere between casual and passionate”. I was never exceptional, but in those months where I was playing regularly, I ranked as highly as #281 in Oceania and Australia.

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From the very beginning, I decided that I would only play Scoiatael decks, and for the most part I kept to that – about 95% of my games have been from the one faction. I actively avoided following the META, and I put huge amounts of thought into the composition of decks with unique strategies. More importantly though, I created meaningful names for every deck I ever made, and I remember each of them fondly. There were the Sons of Earth, the River of Gold and Aen Seidhe. During my brief stint playing as Skellige, I called upon The Undying. When I went through my Monster phase, my decks were named Winter Knights, Champion, and Om Nommy Nomface.

In practice though, I only really used three decks.

There was Ambuscade, that focussed almost exclusively on ambush cards, traps and keeping my opponent guessing. I would lay down two or three cards face-down, and they would never know which of them would flip over and put them at a disadvantage.

Then there was the Commando deck, constantly moving units from row to row, never being where the opponent expected and punishing them for both staying where they were or trying to escape.

Among them, my prized deck was called Use the Boost to Get Through. I would layer several rows with Golden Frothed ale, and my Mahakam Marauders would drink it all. Due to some strategic wizardry, I could get up to nine Marauders on the board at once, each worth 40+ points while my Farseers laughed and laughed. I once won a game with a final score of over 400 points in the third round.

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Over the time I’ve played, I’ve gotten almost all of the cards in the game. This was knowledge hard-won, involving much trial and error as I learned the best way to open Kegs. I’d opened hundreds of them over time and was curious to see how many cards I had in total, so I manually counted them all, not distinguishing between premium and standard (animated or still). The final tallies were:
Bronze – 200/200
Silver – 133/150
Gold – 104/131

Even though I was missing more than I’d expected, I’m pretty proud of that effort! I’ve already got about 10000 scraps from previous mills, so when Homecoming launches and all of my current cards are converted to scrap I think I’ll have enough to buy the maximum playable number of every card in the game (thanks to all those duplicates). I wonder what kind of strategies I’ll create next.

 

I’ll miss the old Gwent, but I’m excited for Thronebreaker and the Homecoming rework. I’ve avoided learning anything about Homecoming because I want to experience it fresh, poring over each new card and putting together my ultimate deck without being influenced by other people’s ideas of what works. December 4th has been a long time coming.

My Old Friend

My old friend Fear knocked on my door today. He walked with me all morning, reminding me of all the things that could hurt me.

I took me a while to realise that I had given him my power because I knew on some level that he was trying to protect me, and God knows I needed someone to. I had given him the reins, and in doing so had let him convince me to shrink myself, to avoid danger, and to run from threats.

Then, I remembered to lean into him rather than turn away from him. There was a distinct moment where I said to myself, “I’m not going to live in fear today.”

And so I turned.

And he pushed back.

And I held strong.

Life is scary. It’s full of painful shit that could hurt me. But closing my eyes and bracing is no way to spend the day, and I refused to do it any longer. I decided that if I were to die in battle, I would face the end with courage and dignity.

And then I crested the hill,

And saw that it was deserted.

But I it did not change my bearing.