For players whose in-game resources are tight, knowing which cards give most value for those resources can be difficult. Which cards are the best in a set? Which can be used in the most decks? Which cards from a new set are most likely to let me keep up with competitive play?
In this article, we will look to answer these questions by providing our own recommendations on which cards to craft from Crimson Curse for Neutral and all factions. This is part of a continuous series of articles, one for each major released set, that will be updated as balance patches are applied to the game and will be stored in the Aretuza Academy, under Deck Building for referencing.
This article will focus on cards from the Crimson Curse card set. It is up-to-date with Gwent as of version 126.96.36.199. All card screenshots taken from The Voice of Gwent.
Any crafting guide for any game that supports faction-agnostic cards will start by recommending them, and we will too. Neutral cards are always good crafting choices, particularly for new players building their collection, as they can be used in any deck, often giving them great utility. Here are Team Aretuza’s crafting choices for Crimson Curse’s Neutral cards:
4 is a magic number in Gwent, as it is the amount of damage needed to deal, at least in some capacity, with most engine cards. This makes Regis: Bloodlust the perfect crafting choice: As a 4-strength unit dealing 4 damage, it is already strong, but with the added utility of putting many units in range of the Deathblow effect of other cards and Banishing if its own Deathblow is procced, it becomes a key card in many Crimson Curse decks. Regis: Bloodlust is power-crept over Enraged Ifrit from Gwent’s base-set, and as such can replace Ifrit in any deck running it.
Portal adds a new thinning option to decks that require more consistency. Decks that include it must be careful to control which 4-provision cost cards to include, as Portal Summons instead of Plays, and as such the Deploy effects of thinned cards will not proc. However, for this cost, the card can be used to access two 4-cost engines without having to keep them in hand and making it difficult for the opponent to deal with both.
We recommend Gregoire because it can fit into a multitude of decks across numerous factions, and though it is easier with some leaders than others, generally speaking there will be opportunity to trigger the card’s Deathblow effect, making it an 11-point, 9-provision play. Of course it also comes with the nice addition of Shield, which makes it difficult for anything other than hard removal to deal with the value Gregoire generates.
Fisher King is a Neutral, less powerful version of Nilfgaard’s Albrich, but the very nature of the card means it might still be worth crafting. The ability to manipulate the order in which cards are drawn from the deck is an incredible advantage over a deck not doing the same, improving consistency and making combo decks more viable. Fisher King is also a far stronger card now that Traheaern var Vdyffir is seeing less play.
Before Crimson Curse, Monsters was seen by many as the strongest faction, and as such the set additions to Monsters do little to strengthen it, but do supply a wider variety of ways to play the faction:
Katakan represents a strong value addition to Monsters that can be used across a variety of archetypes, including Giants, Vampires and as a proactive play in control decks. The card’s Deathwish effect makes it a solid target for Cyclops and though it’s Thrive effect is difficult to proc outside of Giants decks, combining Katakan with Protofleder (see below) at least somewhat makes up for the lost Thrive value.
Queen of the Night primarily synergises well with Vampire and Bleed decks but also represents flexibility that Monsters somewhat lacked before Crimson Curse, giving the player an option to Purify any unit on the board if necessary. As of this version of Gwent, the card is a little overshadowed by the sheer power of other cards in the faction, but it should not be underrated as a strong tech choice in any Monsters deck.
Protofleder best represents another element to Monsters’ game before the release of the set, giving an alternative control option that synergises particularly well with Giants decks due to its Dominance effect. This same effect makes the card perfect for triggering Thrive engines, and at 10 points for 10 provisions it stands as one of the strongest cards for its provision cost.
No faction better showcases CD Projekt Red’s move from decks built around a single archetype or synergy to decks made up of modular mechanical packages than Nilfgaard, and this is also reflected in what we believe to be the top crafting choices from Crimson Curse:
A card that can combine creatively with Jan Calveit, Ardal aep Dahy, Emhyr var Emreis and of course Anna Henrietta, Damien represents a breath of fresh air for Nilfgaard, allowing these leaders to challenge Morvran Voorhis' spot as top NG leader. Though it is vulnerable to Locks, the card also opens up more strategy in playing Nilfgaard, allowing you to choose between pushing to win Round 1 without losing your leader ability or going for more value in Round 3.
Vivienne has quickly established itself as a staple Nilfgaard card due to the presence in most decks of Assire var Anahid and Roach, which Vivienne synergises with well. Though Roach is the perfect target for Vivienne, Leo Bonhart, Shilard Fitz-Oesterlen and a number of high-cost provisions, low-strength control options often run by Nilfgaard decks make for good targets too, which means Vivienne finds good value across the board.
The nerf to Vesemir, Eskel and Lambert has perhaps hit Nilfgaard harder than other factions, which makes Roderyck a very valid option for most Nilfgaard decks, providing much needed consistency and thinning at the cost of some randomness. Importantly, the card also plays into the Spy package that was expanded with Crimson Curse and at only 2 strength, plays into Deathblow for even more value.
Ever the faction of Orders and engines, Crimson Curse gave Northern Realms more support added to their faction identity, while tuning down some of the obvious control options that had made it more difficult to play NR before Crimson Curse was released:
Queen Adalia is a powerful card not only because it can generate and protect an extra bronze engine, such as Tridam Infantry or Reinforced Trebuchet, with a Shield but also because it combines with other bronze units like Blue Stripes Scout or Cintrian Royal Guard for pure value. It is a card that rewards specific deck-building; lending itself to interesting off-meta experimentation.
Built upon a great new mechanic for Northern Realms, Formation, Anséis has quickly become an auto-include in Queen Meve decks due to this leader’s ability to bypass the formation effect, allowing you to boost Anséis and give it Zeal all at once, already making it better than Seltkirk of Gulet due to the lack of set-up involved.
As Anna Strenger provides an engine for the boost mechanic, Windhalm provides one for Shield. As it procs at the end of an allied turn, it easily finds at least some value and unlike Anna, the only hard answer to Windhalm is complete removal control, as Shield is a status that can be reapplied. Windhalm’s real strength though lies in deck utility, as it is not confined to Shield-based lists, but can also be used in the far more popular Engine Overload variant of Northern Realms decks.
Scoia’tael is undoubtedly the faction to have profited most from the release of Crimson Curse, with the Harmony mechanic and a strong leader in Dana Méadbh giving it a wide variety of new ways to be played. Our list attempts to represent this by showcasing the top cards that have either opened up new strategies or really bolstered existing ones:
Surviving the initial test of which cards from Crimson Curse are good or bad, The Great Oak has become a staple finisher for numerous Scoia’tael archetypes; superb in a long round and packing a high-value floor even in a short round. The additional removal removal capability that is built into the card is enough for us to recommend it, but the fact that you might vary it with additional raw value depending on your circumstances means that The Great Oak also has tremendous utility. Finally, it also has the rare Treant tag, which can be a great bonus for Dana Méadbh and/or Harmony decks.
Following the pattern of cards finding real value through utility, Treant Boar is a movement engine that does not depend on other movement synergies and therefore can find a home in any Scoia’tael deck. At 5 strength, it is not easy for every opponent to deal with immediately, meaning they have to invest far more than the 8 provisions Treant Boar costs to stop it. As an added bonus, it also gives Dana Méadbh and Harmony decks the best option for the Treant tag.
Brokilon Sentinel is the thinning option provided to Scoia’tael after the nerf to the Wolf School Witchers (Vesemir, Eskel and Lambert), once again playing into the fact that their faction provides so many small-damage dealers to make it easy to proc Sentinel’s Deathblow effect in most Scoia’tael decks. Though decks running more Dwarves tag may still favour Mahakam Volunteers, those heavy on Elves and Dryads can now turn to Brokilon Sentinel with less fear of bricking.
Another strong faction before Crimson Curse dropped, Skellige proved difficult for us to find agreement on what to recommend. CD Projekt Red used the expansion to push the self-wound archetype, and as with Monsters, made it an alternative playstyle rather than increasing the overall power of the faction:
It is hard to find Skellige lacking anything as a faction, but proactive plays have been a small chink in their otherwise impenetrable armor since Gwent’s release and Svalblod Totem goes a long way to fix the problem. Finding value, often full value, even if the artifact is destroyed before its effect can be procced, Svalblod Totem synergises perfectly with Svalblod decks and surely finds a place in many other if not all Skellige decks.
Cheap in both crafting and provision cost, Svalblod Priest works well in a vaccuum, providing an extra point for every turn it remains on the board. Additionally, it has great synergy with the self-wound archetype, allowing you to reactivate at least one of Harald Houndsnout's Pals should Harald be Locked or removed as well as proccing cards such as Svalblod Fanatic, Heymaey Protector and, of course, Olaf. As it becomes 5 strength at the end of the turn on which it is played, it is also more difficult to remove than many other bronze engines, making it likely to earn you more points than its 5 provisions suggest.
Some players might be put off by Disgraced Brawler’s negative Berserk effect, but for a bronze card it represents good value and an important Skellige proactive play, that actually proves difficult to kill in many cases. While Bloodthirst 3 proves quite difficult to achieve regularly to activate the self-Locking mechanism, your opponent is forced to make quite a commitment to remove the Brawler, making it more than worth the 5 provisions it costs to include it.