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 Gwent’s Base Set for Neutral and all factions. This is part of a continuous series of articles, one for each major released set, which will be updated as balance patches are applied to the game and will be stored in the Aretuza Academy, under Deck Building, for reference.
This article will focus on cards from the Base Set card set. It is up-to-date with Gwent as of version 188.8.131.52. 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 the Base Set’s Neutral cards:
Muzzle is a hard-control card that finds solid value by removing opponents’ engines while putting points on your side of the board. This means it almost always trades up on your opponents’ plays, often denying them more than the 10 points listed on the card and, in combination with other cards, providing you with these points instead.
Cleaver is a truly Neutral card in that it can be fit into almost any Gwent deck. Especially when going second it is an incredibly punishing card, as it can quickly wipe out the opponent’s Tactical Advantage, remove early proactive engines and help to swing against tall-unit openers. Even when used later in the game or when going first, it can still efficiently remove engines or help to provide a tempo swing in Round 2 if the opponent tries to push you.
This card is significantly weaker than the other Neutral cards we recommend; little more than a tech choice to include in metas where artifacts such as Summoning Circle are finding a lot of purchase. However, we feel it is worthy of inclusion here as this tool is important to factions without their own efficient artifact removal option, namely Northern Realms and Skellige.
As it currently stands, many more decks prefer a long Round 3 than not, and as such, Ocvist stands to find a lot of value. In a long third round, your opponent cannot help but “play wide” - place down many units, and Ocvist becomes a high-power late game finisher that can be used in a lot of decks. It is weak to some hard-control tools such as Locks, but it is resilient to most damage effects.
It is with great pleasure that we recommend Geralt’s faithful teleporting horse for priority crafting. Roach is a popular card due to it representing good, easy thinning, which makes your deck more consistent to allow you a better chance of reaching your more valuable cards in later rounds. When going first, it supplies you with extra tempo in Round 1 and, should you not play a gold card until Round 2, also helps if an opponent tries to bleed you.
Old Speartip is a simple card that represents a big tempo swing without a lot of setup, making it very card-efficient. Due to its design, it will never reach provision value, but that rarely matters, as the point value of the card is so high that it will almost always help you catch up or get ahead of your opponent. It also combines nicely with Ozzrel, from the Monsters’ starter set, to provide a form of carryover if we wish to commit this card to an early round. With both Speartips in deck (the other being Old Speartip: Asleep), Ozzrel will rarely brick.
Brewess, Whispess and Weavess, also known as The Crones, provide great value for the 24 provisions required to run all three of them in a single deck. Doing so provides you with a form of pseudo-carryover, with each Crone getting stronger after the others are played, also allowing you to choose the order of play depending on your strategy. Importantly, Whispess also represents great removal in a faction where it is sorely lacking, despite the recent nerf to the card.
Toad Prince is not often seen in meta Monsters decks, but we feel it has a good design for Gwent beginners. It is weak in a short round, as valid or useful targets may be lacking, but at 9 points for 9 provisions and packing a very necessary removal option, the card has niche utility in cases such as dealing with a unit protected by Queen Adalia's Shield. It is similar in a way to Nilfgaard’s Sweers, swapping the opportunity to steal a 3-point engine for a single provision.
Letho of Gulet combines with Auckes and Serrit from Nilfgaard’s starter set to give Nilfgaard players a further control option to play earlier, depending on your hand. Though playing Letho does telegraph whether you have Auckes and/or Serrit too, this rarely matters as, particularly playing Serrit before Auckes, the other parts of the combination are difficult to avoid playing around.
When combined with Roach, Assire is one of the best proactive plays in the game, particularly useful to Nilfgaard as you will often find yourself going first in Round 3. It comes with the added utility of being a fantastic deck manipulation tool, rarely shuffling good cards other than Roach back into your deck in Round 2 to be used again in Round 3 and occasionally being used to disrupt an opponent’s graveyard. This requires some skill to use properly and can teach you to think outside of the box in niche situations.
A card with a high value floor and higher value ceiling, Peter is one of Nilfgaard’s staple control tools. It’s easy enough to find provision value by resetting the Tactical Advantage boost or healing one of Nilfgaard’s many high-base strength units if it is damaged for 3-4 points. Additionally, the card may even win certain matchups on its own, trading up on cards such as Ghoul and Ozzrel and shutting down boost-heavy engines such as Mahakam Defender or Anna Strenger.
Even before the nerf to 4-point damage cards, Botchling remained the best engine available to Northern Realms, punishing any deck not able to deal with it cleanly and immediately by healing itself using its Order ability after receiving damage, continuing to gain an extra point of value for every turn it stays on the board. If your opponent responds by passing, the card comes with a bit of extra tempo, triggering not only on the turn you play it, but again once your opponent has passed too.
Ves represents the only instant removal available to Northern Realms that is somewhat efficient, not only trading up on many engines, as it deals 4 points of damage, but also developing another threat on the board. If Ves sticks, it feeds into potentially high-tempo Order abilities such as those belonging to Ocvist and Seltkirk of Gulet. This is useful in many Northern Realms decks, which tend to be engine-heavy and prefer winning Round 1 to ensure a long last round.
Vincent Meis is a high-floor, high-ceiling card that reaches provision value by hitting a base 5-point unit, with the potential for much more than that. It is useful against many Monsters decks, not least those running Count Caldwell and one or both of the Speartips. It has fantastic synergy with Kaedweni Revenant and Lyrian Arbalest too, allowing you to easily remove engines that would otherwise cause you more difficulty.
With Sheldon Skaggs in the Scoia’tael starter set, Ithlinne is a must-craft card to combine with it. Carryover is a key component of Scoia’tael’s late-game strategy, so getting as much of it as possible with Ithlinne and cards like Dwarven Agitator is a high priority. It’s worth bearing in mind, also, that if the Ithlinne boost is reserved for Sheldon, this carryover is amplified due to Sheldon causing its value in additional damage to the opponent. Even in Round 3, Ithlinne is still worth 9 points, and as such is a very valid card to carry into the round should it not be drawn earlier.
Milva is fantastic in a long round, usually reaching upwards of 10 points in a full-length round. As you already want to be playing Scoia’tael faction cards, there’s very little consequence to the deck-building requirement of the ability proccing on faction cards. Of course, we cannot recommend Milva without talking about its Immunity, making it almost impossible to remove and making life more difficult for highly reactive decks with leaders such as Eithné and Crach an Craite.
Morenn is a modal card that gives us enough of an improvement on Dorregaray of Vole for us to recommend it. If the Lock does not see use, it still provides a decent 7 points (5 on our side) for 9 provisions, but Scoia’tael lacks efficient Lock options, and so Morenn’s Ranged row effect also comes in handy in engine matchups. As a nice bonus, the Dryad tag synergies well with some other cards: Notably Barnabas Beckenbauer, but less obviously any Harmony card and Dryad Grovekeeper.
Hjalmar may only have a 3-point body, but the removal option that the card packages is totally worth the provision cost paid for it. This is because it comes with the extra utility of being worth variable damage, meaning you can remove lower-strength engines as necessary, or play Hjalmar for pure value by using a higher-strength card from your graveyard for a bigger swing. The downside is that it does require a developed graveyard to be effective, but playing Round 1 and 2 with any Skellige deck is often enough to meet this very broad requirement.
Ulfhedinn meets its provision cost as long as you have a target at 5-point strength or higher, which means that the card has a much, much higher ceiling. That range alone is enough for us to recommend Ulfhedinn, but there are additional upsides that come with it: If played with Crach an Craite, Ulfhedinn can work as pseudo-removal, targeting 3-point engines to be damaged down to 1 for the leader ability to finish off. Additionally, it does work to punish decks that go tall, as Ulfhedinn’s value only goes up as the value of it’s target increases.
Alongside Crimson Curse's Svalblod Totem, Harald is one of Skellige’s best proactive plays, setting up a threat that must be immediately dealt with. Unfortunately it often is, as Skellige does not have many other cards that are such high-priority removal targets, but even if Harald itself is removed, the Harald’s Pals tokens remain on the board, distributing the value of the card pretty evenly and tying into the value of a number of Skellige bronze cards. Svalblod Priest and Svalblod Butcher, both from Crimson Curse, as well as Heymaey Protector from the Base Set can all be made more valuable through the use of the Pals, making them playable even in later rounds where bronze cards tend to be weaker.