A guide into the new leader abilities in Gwent (Patch 6.1)

Posted by lerio2 April 2, 2020 in GuidesPatches and Hotfixes

Introduction

Patch 6.1 introduced 6 new leader abilities to Gwent, one for each faction.

  • Monsters: Overwhelming Hunger
  • Nilfgaard: Imposter
  • Northern Realms: Uprising
  • Scoia’tael: Mahakam Forge
  • Skellige: Blaze of Glory
  • Syndicate: Hidden Cache

We will analyze each of the new leader abilities in the common “Alphabet…” cycle style, providing strategy guide, provisional leader ratings and example decks.

Ratings table

Ability nameProvision CapRating
Overwhelming Hunger132.5
Imposter133.0
Uprising143.0
Mahakam Forge152.0
Blaze of Glory152.0
Hidden Cache153.0

Rating in (1-5) scale, meaning of ranks:

1 = unplayable

2 = playable, but weak or lacking winning strategy

3 = playable

4 = strong leader

5 = top notch leader

Abilities with 2.5+ ratings could be considered for ladder play. Depending on the meta, 2.5 rated leader could be better than 4.0 one!

Leaders and Gameplans


Overwhelming Hunger

Order: Destroy an allied unit, then Spawn an Ekimmara in its row and boost it by destroyed unit’s power. Charge: 3

Raw power: 6p

Discussion

Flexible leader ability with many synergies. It could be compared with playing additional Kayran, but in fact is clearly better. Overwhelming Hunger makes it possible to consume Deathwish units without going tall, spare charges between rounds in order to gain valuable tempo, and purify poisoned units.

Long round Hunger

Ekimmaras are spawned, not played. Therefore, thrive is not proceed when using leader ability. Moreover, tokens are spawned to the same row where units were destroyed.

To withstand a long round, Overwhelming Hunger has various measures. Ruehin is a thematic card, which would always enter the game for at least 8 points for 11 provision, and have 40 points ceiling. Crimson Curse could be used with Overwhelming Hunger, as Ekimmaras have Vampire tag and Dettlaff: Higher Vampire is an autoinclude. Finally She-Troll of Vergen could enter the game with 6+ value immediately and without any consuming unit on the board.

Short round Hunger

Ruehin is probably the strongest unit associated with Overwhelming Hunger, which means that it should also find place in oppressive, short round decks. In spite of being charges leader, Overwhelming Hunger does not seem like a typical oppressive Monsters ability.

The main difference would be refraining from Crimson Curse ideas and going for Ozzrel + Yghern combo with additional tutor, which provides both best R1 reach and unconditional power in short R3.

Cryptoswarm

While Ruehin is the obvious call for Overwhelming Hunger, there is another, less straightforward synergy, which deserves some attention. The archetype of Consume Swarm, making use of Consuming and Deathwish:Spawn units, did not make it to the meta so far. The main reasons was going tall, low point efficiency due to playing consume units, passivity, long set-up, susceptibility to locks… Overwhelming Hunger is a perfect leader for playing Cryptoswarm a Consume Swarm deck with low number of consuming units, disguised as a Deathwish one. Leader ability offers great flexibility. You can play for example 3 Deathwish units, suddenly activate them all with Hunger and slam Yennefer of Vengerberg on the board, playing around wide punish. On the other hand, if opponent plays locks and no wide punish, you can activate your Deathwish units immediately. Another bonus is that Overwhelming Hunger immediately spawns another unit on the board.

Example decks

Oppressive Hunger

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/79b1fa5a65540338ab3407324b5e4cba

Crimson Curse Hunger

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/6ccd4d6e78dbdd4e6c70b7190e5f2589

Cryptoswarm

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/294ae65e092d690f67cfb1bb70132622

Leader rating

Interesting leader ability, offering various combinative lines of play, while being more flexible than Death’s Shadow. We give this leader 2.5/5 rating, predicting higher rank when spectacular combo decks become fully optimized.


Imposter

Order: Lock an enemy unit, then Spawn its base copy in the opposite row and boost it by 2.

Raw power: ?

Discussion

This leader ability is directly addressed against engine decks. Being able to immediately shut off enemy engine, and spawning its copy at the same time, give big initiative advantage, comparable only with Enslave. Even abilities like Blood Money are unable to achieve such advantage – these could setup 1:0 engine advantage, but never 2:0. Imposter is also scary against strong order units, like Stefan Skellen, where could easily reach +20 points of effective power.

The obvious bottleneck of the ability is dealing with Pointslam and Control decks not going tall. Usual floor against such decks is 8 passive points, which would mean autolose against top leaders.

Spawning a copy of enemy unit suggests a bit playing Assimilate decks, where stolen engine could get reasonable support with cards from opponent faction. It is not necessary however.

Signing opponent’s unit with lock status have additional benefits with cards like Thirsty Dame, Vincent van Moorlehem, Vanhemar, or very risky Vattier de Rideaux.

Example decks

Imposter Masquerade Ball

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/c649af1b73cafaf9ecbe4d85b47eda37

Leader rating

Conditional leader, very strong against engine meta, but perhaps not having enough trumps in the general case. Joins Usurper and Double Cross in anti-meta call leader abilities. (3.0/5.0)


Uprising

Order: Boost an allied unit by 1. Charge: 4. Once all Charges are used up, Spawn and play Lyrian Scytheman.

Raw power: 7++

Discussion

Very interesting leader ability for Northern Realms, with floor of 7 and ceiling of 24 raw points if maximal Lyrian Scytheman power is unleashed.

The leader is a bit problematic from gameplay point of view. Not playing two cards per turn, it could lose a lot in a long round due to lack of initiative. On the other hand, long round is needed in order to unleash full Scytheman power.

Being synergistic with Boost and Inspiration archetype, Uprising gets many effective points. Especially the possibility to remove almost any target in one turn with Prince Anseis is useful.

Squeezing Scytheman value

In order to get most of Scytheman value, Uprising decks are supposed not only to buff, but also to swarm in one way or another. Caravan Vanguard package and Draug is a consideration then. If Uprising manages to secure R1, it could also accompany these with greedy card, like Voymir.

Example decks

Pointslam Uprising

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/8d150af937a489e2d739486a4ba89610

Leader rating

Both in terms of raw power and synergy with Northern Realms cards, Uprising has some potential. We assess it as 3.0/5.0 now, while the correct line to play the leader still has to be discovered.


Mahakam Forge

Order: Spawn and play Tempering. All Dwarves in your starting deck get 1 Armor.

Raw power: 5

Discussion

Mahakam Forge ability is explicitly designed for oppressive play. Passive +1 armor ability could be only fully exploited, if 16 cards are played, and all of them fights for strategical benefits.

The leader ability, worth 5 raw points, would never be strong enough to challenge most of the decks in a long round. Mahakam Forge has to aim at destructing opponent strategy by R2 push, while establishing carryover with Resilient units: Zoltan Chivay and Gabor Zigrin.

Unfortunately, especially on blue coin, the archetype does not seem to have enough power to successfully realise oppressive strategy

Example decks

Resilience Mahakam Forge (updated)

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/69a7ae09ecfc629d114d3cd523a207c6

Leader rating

The leader is passive, slow and reliant on straightforward strategy. We love the new Dwarvies archetype, but give it (2/5) provisional rating in terms of power.


Blaze of Glory

Order: Move a Skellige unit from your deck to graveyard, then damage an enemy by its power.

Raw power: ?

Discussion

The leader is to some extent analogous to Vicious Slash in Northern Realms. It is of initiative type, and could reach really good value only if opponent plays tall pointslam or greedy engines. If Skellige lacks instant removal for 5+ points engines, the leader could come into consideration.

Targets for the Blaze of Glory

Jutta an Dimun is probably the main target. The point ceiling would be then equal to about 14 points, if getting full value from damage, and additional value from a card conditioned on graveyard state, like Sigrdrifa’s Rite, or Hjalmar an Craite.

Playing Sigrdrifa’s Rite+Jutta combo invites also playing Crowmother and oppressive type of Skellige. Decent value is also gained if opponent finishes tall – then 12 point damage easily finds target.

Example decks

Oppressive Blaze of Glory with Gedyneith

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/d28e71867fddbc52f2c4edc5c3b0b305

Leader rating

Being strictly worse than Second Wind in oppressive play, the leader probably would not find good enough general strategy to be played. We give this ability a credit, but do not predict it in the meta (2.0/5.0)


Hidden Cache

Order: Gain 3 Coins. On round start, refresh this ability. Your Hoards require 3 less Coins to trigger.

Raw power: 9p+ (3p+ in a single round)

Discussion

Hidden Cache is a leader ability requiring active play in R2. Otherwise it would be 3 coins leader with small benefits on some bronze and gold hoard cards. While another 3 coins could be used R1 to gain last say/second say advantage, R2 drypass is in contradiction with the pointslam character of most of the hoard cards, especially The Flying Redanian.

Hoard cards

Let’s list Syndicate cards with Hoard mechanic.

Tidecloak Ransackers, Sea Jackal, Sewer Raiders, Passiflora Peaches, Mutant Killer, Saul de Navarette, Hvitr and Aelydia, The Flying Redanian

Tidecloak Ransackers probably would not see much play due to rigid character of Syndicate decks. It is not a terrible card with Hidden Cache leader lowering Hoard requirement to 2 coins, but may lack useful applications in the meta.

Sea Jackal is an amazing spender, practically autoinclude for Hidden Cache builds. Hoard is lowered to 4 coins, which gives effectively +1 point with full bank, and +3 points if played as full bank finisher with leader ability. As with full bank it was already common 6 for 4 spender, 9 for 4 makes that card absolutely powerful in Hidden Cache decks.

Sewer Raiders were not played not because of Hoard requirement, but because of passivity and provision costs. Hidden Cache would not probably change anything here. However, the pointslam character of Sewer Raiders matches common Hidden Cache strategy quite well.

Passiflora Peaches seems like a very good bronze engine with Hidden Cache. With Hoard lowered to 1, activating this card fast should pose no trouble. Coins could be used to control the game to great extent without breaking Hoard threshold.

Mutant Killer is a strong card if only the Hoard is satisified. It did not see play before Patch 6.1 due to consistency and provision issues. However, Hidden Cache is a perfect leader for this card. With Hoard reduced to 2 and 3 coins coming from leader, Mutant Killer could enter the game immediately for full value.

Saul de Navarette is absolutely bonkers and autoinclude with Hidden Cache. It could be played immediately as +2 points per turn hardly removable engine, quickly reaching +3 per turn tempo.

Hvitr and Aelydia could be used in engine overload decks, but this card is still intrinsically worse than Pavko Gale is Scoia’tael.

The Flying Redanian seems to be autoinclude, very well fitting to main Hidden Cache strategy which is playing actively in each round and fishing for good trades.

All-rounds Hidden Cache

Playing cards like Passiflora Peaches, Mutant Killer and The Flying Redanian, winning R1 is very realistic for Hidden Cache. In fact probably would be absolutely necessary in many matchups.

On the blue coin, Tiger’s Eye is natural stratagem, and Peaches are perfect starting engine, basically claiming R1 without costs.

On the red coin it would be nice to activate Flying Redanian immediately. Some high tempo plays may help winning on even cards. Redanian + Leader would usually mean +6 points, which is more than Tactical Advantage. Reaching 6+ coins with a strong gold card is very useful here.

High tempo, unconditional cards are also very important for R3. Luiza+Savolla combo is a gold mine of proactive points, necessary in short R3 or for a push in short R2. Azar Javed is great both as defender (Saul could go really high!) and proactive play activating The Flying Redanian with 3 coins if not tributed. Pickpocket is a worthy thematic addition. The most oppressive way of abusing the red coin would be playing Passiflora, which is autoinclude in the meta not playing artifact removal.

Example decks

Sigi Passiflora Hidden Cache

https://www.playgwent.com/decks/f549c9e74a5cebdd84ad190143678d4f

Leader Rating

Hidden Cache leader ability clearly tops oppressive options for Syndicate (Lined Pockets, Off the Books…). We give it 3/5 rating for the moment being.


Patreon

Writing in-depth Gwent articles is fun, but time consuming. If you like ‘Alphabet’ cycle and other articles, and fancy to support my efforts – here is the way to go: https://www.patreon.com/lerio2

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