A Detailed Look at Gwent Ability Timings and Priority
Ability Timings and Priorities
A big issue that Gwent currently has is that it has no official ruleset dealing with the more intricate mechanics of the game. While a lot of seasoned players have most of these memorized, the lack of good reference material makes it unnecessarily difficult both for new and more casual players. A large topic that was never really addressed in detail by the devs was ability timings and priorities, which is why I decided to write this guide.
Disclaimer: With the exception of the general order of effects, which has an official explanation from the dev's side, everything here stems from an accumulation of experience and experiments.
Table of contents
- General order of effect resolving
- Abilities with conditional triggers
- Ability hierarchy when playing a card
- Ability hierarchy on time bound abilities
General order of effect resolving
In general when multiple effects are bound to happen at the same time, either when playing a card or at the start/end of a turn, the game checks and resolves effects in the following order:
Abilities with conditional triggers
There are certain abilities that only trigger when something specific happened, like for example the unit got boosted or moved. These abilities will always be applied immediately after their trigger is fully resolved. That means, for example Mardroeme, which first damages and then boosts, will not trigger Berserk effects because after the card is fully resolved the unit in question is either destroyed or boosted, but not at the specified Berserk strength. If multiple such abilities are triggered at the same time, refer to the general order of effects.
Ability hierarchy when playing a card
The hierarchy here is quite simple. If the card played is a special card or a unit with a Deploy ability, this ability is applied first. Afterwards any abilities that were triggered when said card was played are applied using the general order of effect resolving. There is a special case with the Syndicate keywords Profit and Tribute. Profit is higher than Deploy in the hierarchy, whilst Tribute can be seen as a Deploy that you have to pay Coins for.
Example situation One:
You, the turn player, control a 4 strength Nekker Warrior on both Melee and Ranged row, a 1 Strength Drone on Melee and have an Endrega Warrior in hand, whilst the opponent controls an An Craite Longship on Melee.
You play Endrega Warrior and consume only the Drone. The effects resolve as follows:
The Endrega Warrior consumes the Drone via its Deploy ability, spawns another Drone, and is now boosted to 5 Strength.
Your Melee row is checked. The first Nekker Warrior's Thrive is triggered because Endrega Warrior's strength is at 5 when this unit’s ability trigger was checked.
The opposing Melee row is checked. The An Craite Longship damages Endrega Warrior by 1.
Your Ranged row is checked. The second Nekker Warrior's Thrive does not trigger because Endrega Warrior's Strength is not greater than its own when this unit’s ability trigger was checked.
Opposing Ranged row is checked. Nothing happens.
Ability hierarchy on time bound abilities
Unlike when playing a card, where Deploy goes before everything and then there is only one type of ability to check for, there are several types of time bound abilities that are checked at specific points in time. I called these “Steps” and they are defined as follows:
Turn Step: Applying abilities that happen at the start or end of the turn. First effects on the field are checked, then the deck, and finally the graveyard.
Status Step: Applying effects from the statuses Bleeding, Vitality and Rupture, with Rupture triggering first.
Timer Step: Applying effects bound to a timer. (e.g. Portal, Villentretenmerth)
Each Step is fully resolved using the general order until the start of the next Step. Time bound abilities can miss their timing. If for example an ability that triggers during the Timer Step summons a unit with an ability that triggers during the Turn Step, that ability has missed its time window for this turn and does not trigger
With the Way of the Witcher also came a special case that didn’t exist before. Until the expansion, the only effects that triggered at the start of a turn were row effects like Frost and Fog, but then came Saber-Tooth Tiger. Its artifact form transforms into a unit at the start of your turn. From what I was able to observe so far the transformation happens after row effects get triggered, as it didn’t get damaged whilst transforming alone on a row with Frost. To determine whether or not row effects have their own step, more data and more cards with “start of turn” abilities are needed.
Example situation Two:
You have fewer cards in your deck than your opponent. You control a Viper Witcher Adept, a Portal with 1 turn left on its timer both on the Melee row and an unboosted Magne Division with the statuses Shield, Bleeding (1) and Rupture on your ranged row. Your only 4 Provision unit in the deck is a second Viper Witcher Adept.
You end your turn and the abilities resolve as follows:
Turn Step: Your Melee row is checked and the Viper Witcher Adept boosts itself by 1. Your Ranged row is checked and the Magne Division boosts itself by 1.
Status Step: Your Melee row is checked and nothing happens. Your Ranged row is checked and the Rupture Status damages the Magne Division by its own base Strength (3), due to its higher priority to Bleeding/Vitality, which is absorbed by the Shield status and finally the Bleeding status damages it to 3 Strength.
Timer Step: Your Melee row is checked and Portal's timer reaches 0, thus it summons the second Viper Witcher Adept. It does not boost itself because the Turn Step has already passed. Your Ranged row is checked and nothing happens.
Callonetta’s foray into card games was a slow burn. As a submissions editor by day and a gamer by night, she became passionate about The Witcher. This led her to delve into Gwent during Closed Beta as a way to stay attached to the lore, which then blossomed into a near obsession with connecting people who played the game. When she isn’t moonlighting as a butler for her dog, she spends much of her time fostering relationships within card game communities, with a recent passion for Legends of Runeterra at the forefront. Her goal is to bring people closer together who share a love of games and to push content that can aid the casual player. With Team Aretuza, she hopes to continue creating spaces for players to unite, while providing exceptional content to those who love playing card games.