A Guide to Budget Deckbuilding

Greetings fellow Gwenches and Gwentlemen.

My name is Easha Dustfeather, member of the Gwent community that is the Lodge of Sorceresses. The Homecoming and Crimson Curse launch felt like heaven, because now I am able to do what I enjoy the most once again: Budget deckbuilding, creating your first deck and the thrill of making things work with a limited card pool – which this lesson is about. It is meant for new players who want to try deckbuilding for the first time: Notably, it is not a guideline for creating the perfect competitive meta-breaking deck.

 

What is Budget Deckbuilding?

The term describes the process of building a reasonably competitive deck with limited resources. It is less about what an optimised deck needs (this would be enough content for several other articles) and more about making things work with what you have. Once you have enough resources, you can always go for one of the fully optimised “meta” decks that are constantly played in Ranked mode. But in the meantime, budget deckbuilding will help you create a decent deck, that is way stronger than the pre-built starter lists, to get your hands on more of these resources.

Last but not least: It is most likely your first self-made deck – something to be proud of. There’s no reason that creative deckbuilding should be limited only to those with full collections.

 

The Different Resources

If you are new to the game, you have probably grabbed the starter decks and got familiar with the rules and major aspects of Gwent. Thanks to the tutorial and some practice rounds against other new players you have gathered a handful of kegs and some scraps as well. Maybe you even got some nice meteorite powder used for transmutating standard into premium cards.

Your resources are displayed in the upper right corner of your screen.

From left to right: Ore, scraps, meteorite powder, card kegs.

Resources can be earned by playing the game - either through playing matches, or by reaching achievements and spending reward points. Card kegs and meteorite powder can also be purchased for money.

 

Ore can be exchanged for kegs at a rate of 100 ore for one base or expansion keg in the shop. Faction-specific kegs can be found as part of a limited offer for 200 ore per keg. On a side note, because this is not relevant to deckbuilding: 150 Ore is needed to buy you an entrance ticket for Arena mode.

Scraps can be obtained not only as a reward, but also from dismantling other cards (which is called "milling" in Gwent.) Scraps are your most flexible resource, you can craft any card you want with them and do not have to rely on luck to get them from card kegs. Cards of higher rarity and value generally cost more scraps than cards of lower rarity and value. This flexibility makes scraps very valuable in deckbuilding.

Meteorite powder can be used to transmute standard cards into their animated premium variants. This resource is irrelevant to deckbuilding. It's more about what cards you have, not about how pretty they are.

Card kegs are the booster packs of Gwent. Each keg contains five cards: You get the first four at once and get to choose the fifth card out of a selection of three. Each card in the one-out-of-three-choice is at least of rare quality. If you have reached Prestige Level 1, one card among the first four will be rare as well.

 

Before Spending Your Resources

Before you finally start investing your funds you have to make an important decision, so that you can spend the resources in a correct way:

WHAT FACTIONS DO YOU WANT TO PLAY?

You can get an overview about the Gwent's five factions in one of our Basic Gameplay lessons. It is important that you choose, not about which one you choose in particular. At the beginning, just choose the faction most appealing to you: What you have enjoyed playing so far, the faction you like the artworks of, the one with the card backs of your favourite colour, etc. Once you have decided: Choose a second one! It’s always good to have a plan B available.

 

Spending Your Resources and Building Your First Deck

Step 1: Start by opening your card kegs

The last three cards are particularly important because of the choice presented to you. Choose depending on the following guidelines, ranked from most important to least important:

  • Go for cards you do not own yet. If there are multiple options, then:
  • Go for neutral cards. Neutral cards can be put in every deck and are thus very versatile. If no neutrals are available, then:
  • Go for cards of your favourite faction. That’s probably the deck you want to build first, so get your cards together. If that still doesn’t lead to a selection, then:
  • Go for cards of your plan B faction. Maybe you even get enough cards to build a deck for this faction as well after you completed your first one?

If you are unlucky and got none of the choices mentioned above or already have the cards you get offered: Choose premium cards of other factions or whatever you find the most appealing.

You also have the option to get faction-specific kegs from the Reward Book. If you want to focus on playing one single faction first, these are your best bet. Try to unlock the faction kegs in the faction’s Reward Book in that case.

If you are completely unsure in some of your decisions, ask more experienced players for help. Gwent’s communities like the official Gwent forum and Discord server, or community Discord servers like the Lodge of Sorceresses or Team Aretuza, are a great place to get advice.

 

Step 2: Bring your cards together

Open the deck builder and choose any leader of your favourite faction. You can change it later; for now, it just serves as a placeholder. Set the filter on the right side to cards you own (if you would like to learn more about how the deck builder works, check out my guide on Gwent's UI). Don’t be intimidated by the blank space of your deck list and all the cards you could potentially add. As trivial as it may seem, getting started is one of the hardest parts.

 

Study the cards you have and look for synergies. Look for effects that contain the same keywords or phrases. The search bar is very helpful because you can use it to look for keywords. To use the Monster faction as example: Keywords like Consume or Deathwish appear on multiple cards and are searchable from the search bar. Additionally, a card’s tag or category can result in synergy. You could, for example, make a deck containing lots of Elves or Dwarves or a deck full of Witchers as long as cards interact with those categories. A good example is Isengrim Faoiltiarna, who boosts all other Elf allies by 1 on Deploy and boosts itself by 1 whenever you play another Elf.

Synergies often depend on those keywords, so add every card that has this keyword in its text. The concept of keywords usually only refers to faction-specific cards. This is the core of your deck, your deck’s archetype.

 

Now, go back to your leader and see if you can find one that would fit well into that archetype either because it has the same keyword or an effect that you consider a useful addition to your deck. Please bear in mind that leaders instead of costing provisions add a certain amount of provisions to the basic limit of 150. So, keep both aspects of a leader in mind: Their ability and how it synergizes with your deck as well as the provisions it adds. 

 

Besides your main archetype (you can include a second one for a hybrid deck), it is even possible to run multiple of smaller keyword or category packages synergising just with themselves. Just don’t overdo it! If you include too many archetypes and packages, you risk not drawing all your necessary combo pieces. Some might even result in diminishing returns: Cards that destroy tall units should not be paired with cards that damage those units.

 

You can also include cards which don’t have a keyword in common but have general usefulness such as Locking an opponent’s unit (so-called utility cards). Your other option opposed to this are tech cards (which target specific other cards or playstyles like destroying an opponent’s artifact).

 

To fill remaining slots and add some versatility, use neutral cards. For now, just add all you own or at least the ones you consider helpful. After you have done this, you are probably way beyond the provision cost restriction and have way more than 25 cards in your decks. Your deck cannot have a higher provision cost than 150 and the provisions added by your leader combined, or contain below 25 cards. Such a deck is unplayable and it will be marked as such by the game.

 

Step 3: Remove cards

The total provision cost of 150 plus your leader’s extra provisions is a limit you are not allowed to exceed to keep your deck playable. You should still try to come as close as possible to this number because more expensive cards are usually stronger. Ideally, you will use precisely as many provisions as you leader allows you to include.

The deck size is way less restrictive and yet you usually want to use only 25 cards. This is because small decks have greater consistency. The odds of drawing a certain card in your deck is the highest if you run the minimum deck size and decreases with the more cards you add.  What use is a strong card if you do not draw it? In addition, running more than 25 cards also decreases the average provision cost of each card. To fit in more cards, each of them has to be cheaper provision-wise and is thus weaker. This is another reason why you should stay at the minimum deck size of 25 cards.

 

ADVICE ON WHAT YOU SHOULD/SHOULD NOT REMOVE TO GET UNDER THE PROVISIONS CAP:
  • Keep your deck’s core intact. You can consider switching packages as a whole, but keeping each package more or less intact is mandatory for gaining an advantage of their inherent synergies. However, if you have plenty of effects in one package you can remove a few of them. To use the Monsters faction’s Deathwish as an example: If you have enough other Deathwish units, you probably do not need both a Rotfiend and a Bridge Troll.
  • Cut/Replace neutral cards. Neutral cards are usually just an addition to your archetype and not the main part of your deck. Check whether a faction-specific card is more effective than a neutral one: Plumard is a better version of Cutthroat due to its Bonded effect.

  • Cut tech cards which do not support your deck’s core. There are many nice-to-have tech options, but focus on only a few. You can keep a card with Lock to disrupt your opponent’s card effect, but running three Locks without any synergy is most likely too much. A card to clear a row effect, like Scout, can be worth it if every second deck you face plays such row effects. If you rarely encounter row effects, remove the card. You cannot be prepared for every situation, so it is usually better not to weaken your deck with too many cards that are only situationally useful – instead, include cards that are useful in most situations and accept that you might not have the answer to an exotic strategy once in a while.
  • Overall, cut rigorously until you have only 25 cards left.

 

Step 4: Playtest, playtest, playtest! – and adjust

It’s time to use your new deck in battle. Play a couple of rounds against the AI or dare to play against some other players to get familiar with your new deck. What works well, which cards do you barely use or even mulligan away almost every time? Get a feeling for the contribution of each card to your deck and don’t be afraid to get back to the deck builder to make adjustments. Your goal is to continue to refine your deck until it has a good chance of winning and you enjoy playing it. When you get new cards from kegs, don’t forget to check if they can improve one of your current decks.

 

About Using Scraps to Refine Your Deck

Scraps are the most valuable resource in deckbuilding thanks to their flexibility.

You can reset the filter in the deck builder, so it displays unowned cards as well. If you think one of those cards would make a fine addition to your new deck, consider spending scraps to craft it. Just remember that you need to remove other cards to make room for crafted ones. You should apply the same guidelines from opening kegs to crafting: First the neutrals, second the favourite faction and so on. Don’t be afraid to ask more experienced players before spending a large amount of scraps. It is definitely not mandatory for your first budget deck, but can drastically improve a deck and your collection.

Spend them wisely. As your first own budget deck is meant to get those resources in the first place, you should not craft too many expensive cards for it. It might be better to save some resources for building a full-fledged deck from scratch later once you have earned enough rewards with your own budget deck.

 

Conclusion

Deckbuilding is one of the most challenging parts of Gwent, but muster some courage and give it a shot. There will be a lot of trial and error, but it will surely improve your knowledge of card interactions. Apart from that it feels good to create something on your own and make “your baby” work. Of course it is easier to just copy and learn another person’s deck, but I strongly advise trying it on your own as well – maybe you’ll be responsible for finding the next creative Gwent deck.