Deciding which cards to craft with your well-earned scraps is hard enough, but Gwent gives you a second currency, Reward Points, with which you may unlock the leaders with which to command your armies. In this edition of Top Cards to Craft, we will make recommendations for which leader to unlock first for each faction, as well as tell you the Reward Tree in which they can be found.
This article will focus on leaders from every available card set. It is up-to-date with Gwent as of version 220.127.116.11. All card screenshots taken from The Voice of Gwent.
We recommend Woodland Spirit as the first Monsters leader to unlock as it provides the most points of any of the available options in a single round, which is useful no matter which archetype or packages you decide to play in your deck. While there might be better Monsters leaders that work in a more complex way, Gwent remains a points-based game, and as such, the ability to add 8 points at no cost to any unit will never be conventionally bad.
Additonally, with a strong collection of core bronze units, Monsters finds it easier than other factions to win Round 1. This helps guarantee last say, and as such mitigates the risk of the boost playing straight into tall removal.
Nilfgaard as a faction lacks synergy-driven leaders or the core cards to support a leader’s synergy, so our recommendation is to first unlock the leader with the best possible ratio between ability and provision allowance. With Emhyr var Emreis as Nilfgaard’s starter leader, this is Jan Calveit, granting you an effective extra play in one of your three rounds, for more tempo in Round 1 or 2 and extra value in Round 3.
Gwent’s mulligan system means that Jan Calveit’s ability does get worse the later in the game it is used, but the leader does have occasional utility to fetch a key card from the deck that you did not draw.
For engine gameplay, King Henselt is the single best leader to play in the entire game, by some margin. The ability to develop two engines in the same turn allows you to get ahead on the board when playing against other engine decks, removing most or all of their threats quickly, and makes it far more difficult for decks running more control mechanisms to shut you down effectively.
The long round threat of using Henselt’s ability on an engine unit means that you almost always want to aim for a long Round 3 without using your leader ability in Rounds 1 or 2. However, if needs must, it can also be used as a valuable tempo burst to ensure you aren’t bled out in Round 2; something a lot of other engine-focused leaders struggling with.
Brouver Hoog is our recommendation for Scoia’tael, as it provides both valuable points, usually more than 6 printed on the card, and utility. With the help of the boosting and damaging provided by Brouver’s movement ability, this leader synergises well with many Scoia’tael faction cards, wreaking incredible punishment if your opponent plays wide with cards such as Crushing Trap and helping to protect early-game engines like Mahakam Defender and Elven Swordmaster. In a pinch, the damage option can also be used to enable more of your removal options.
The fact that Brouver’s ability is split into Charges is particularly useful, as Scoia’tael is often pushed in Round 2, and by committing a little of Brouver’s ability, you can more easily survive this without committing your better cards.
Svalblod is the most deliberately synergistic leader we recommend on this list - it allows us to play powerful cards such as Vildkaarl much easier than other Skellige leaders, with a lot of added utility that gives you more points as a bonus. Uses include thinning Drummond Shieldmaidens, getting removal value out of Harald Houndsnout's Pals even if Harald itself is Locked or removed and, of course, generating proactive points on cards like Olaf.
As if that weren’t enough, Svalblod has added carryover value in a back-loaded Bear Abomination worth another 5 points if you manage to use all of Svalblod’s Charges. This extra value comes in handy in Round 3, but if you are trying to push resources out of your opponent can also be used in an earlier round too.