Did You Know? The Subtleties of Gwent's Game and Card Mechanics
March 4, 2019 by Easha Dustfeather
Greetings, fellow Gwenches and Gwentlemen!
I am Easha Dustfeather, member of the Lodge of Sorceresses, which supported me while writing this article once again. It is meant for new and more experienced players alike and covers game mechanics and card interactions which might not be obvious at first glance or are not mentioned at all.
Chronological Order of Effects
There is a general rule in which all effects on the board are resolved from Melee to Ranged row, from left to right. This is relevant for weather effects as well: If both rows are under weather, units in the Melee row are damaged first, followed by the Ranged row. Usually this does not affect the game’s flow much, but to give an example where this rule really matters:
Assume that your opponent played the artifact Black Blood (which destroys the next unit that receives a boost) during the last turn. You have Hemdall in your Melee row and An Craite Greatsword in your Ranged row (I). Now you use Brokvar Hunter’s Order ability to damage an enemy unit in your opponent’s Ranged row (II). Which unit would get destroyed?
The answer is Hemdall.
According to the aforementioned rule, Hemdall's effect is resolved first, so he boosts himself earlier than An Craite Greatsword and thus gets destroyed by Black Blood(III).
Inconsistent Deploy Effect Handling
Apart from the just-mentioned rule, there seems to be a hidden priority in which Deploy effects are resolved compared to effects of cards which are already present on the board:
1) The deploy effect is resolved before the unit is placed on the board.
If you play Cyclops (five power) next to a two-power Drowner and want to use it for Cyclops's effect, Drowner's Thrive effect will not be triggered. You will deal two damage with Cyclops by destroying that Drowner; afterwards, all the remaining Thrive units smaller than Cyclops will get their one-point boost.
2) The deploy effect is resolved after the unit is placed on the board.
Cards with “If you control the highest unit, do X” like Wild Hunt Rider count themselves. The unit is placed on the board, the board’s state is checked afterwards, and the Deploy effect takes the unit which was just played into account.
Manually Discarding Cards
You do not have to play a card each turn. If playing a card would put you at a disadvantage, you can discard it directly from your hand and put it into your graveyard. To do so, choose a card in your hand and left-click the graveyard. However, this does not count as a discard for the purposes of card mechanics. A Tuirseach Skirmisher discarded that way will not reappear on the board.
If both of your rows are full, left-clicking a unit or artifact in your hand will manually discard it right away. Special cards can still be played, even if they summon units to the board. If cards spawn and summon units to a row, they will do so until the row limit is hit. For example, playing Germain Piquant on a row with seven cards in it will grant you just one Cow (German Piquant is the eighth card, and the one Cow is the ninth, reaching the row limit).
Resilience and Other Statuses
Resurrected locked units from either graveyard are unlocked before hitting the board. This means their Deploy effects are triggered. A unit is also unlocked if it is shuffled back into the deck from graveyard or board.
A unit can never target itself with a targeted effect.
Targeted damage and boost effects are nullified if there is no valid target available. Note that your own units might be a valid target for a damaging effect if the target is not limited to “enemies” but “units.”
The same goes for targeted boost effects: If the effect states “units” and not “allies,” you will be forced to boost an enemy unit if there is no valid target at your side of the board.
Activating an Order Forces You to Play a Card
You cannot activate Orders (including leader abilities) and pass without playing a card. As soon as you use at least one Order ability, you have to play a card before passing. Make sure to use Order effects like Tactical Advantage in your current turn if you intend to pass in your next one.
1) Turn End Effects
Turn end effects like Mahakam Defender trigger once more after a player has passed. If both pass, the result screen is already shown, but in the background you can still see the effects being resolved on the side of the player who passed last.
2) Timer Running Out
When the timer runs out and you have not played a card, a random card from your hand will be moved to your graveyard. This is considered a manual discard as described earlier.
If you are in the process of choosing a target for an effect while the timer is running out, the target will be decided randomly among all valid options. You can even end up using Lacerate on your own row. Targeted leader abilities fall within that rule as well. This also applies to other decisions. Using Aguara: True Form as an example, if you do not decide which of the three created cards to play, one will be chosen randomly, as will its targets.
Specific Card Interactions
Overdrawing with Birna Bran
Using Birna Bran as first card with a full hand will only give one card because of the hand limit. The second card is manually discarded at once. You still have to discard two cards afterwards so you practically lose a card and thus probably the game as well.
Manually Flipping Traps
All Traps can be flipped over manually. Incinerating Trap and Crushing Trap will have a weaker effect, as stated at the card, but even Traps which do not have such a Zeal effect can be flipped like this, although their effects will not be triggered. Even so, if your opponent did not play a Special Card, you can still left-click your Serpent Trap and turn it over so you have a target for Eldain or another boost on Elven Scout.
Not Choosing a Target by Pressing "Confirm Choice"
If you do not want to choose a target after playing cards which ask to make a choice, you can just click the "Confirm Choice" button to do so, if available. This option is available on cards like Derran and Traheaern var Vdyffir.
Aelirenn and a Full Melee Row
Aelirenn's effect will be delayed until there is free space on the Melee row for her to occupy, as long as the condition of five Elves on the board is still met.
Pitfall Trap and Deathwish Effects
Blue Mountain Elite cannot Hit Immune Units
Blue Mountain Elite's effect used to be targeted, even if Reach 1 and only hitting a target that is the only unit at the row did not leave a choice. This has been changed; the target is now chosen without any player input. While all other “Damage an enemy by X” effects still require manual targeting, this one does not. Despite that it is still considered a targeted effect and thus cannot hit Immune units.
Some of the mechanics mentioned in the article cost me a game because I assumed they would work differently or I did not even know about them at all. Manually flipping Traps was something I discovered recently, and while asking around in the Lodge of Sorceresses even some veterans in Pro Rank did not know about it. I hope this article will prevent the mistakes I made in your future matches.