Master Mirror Impressions
Over the course of the “Reveal Season” for the upcoming Master Mirror expansion, several members of Team Aretuza have been internally rating each card as it has been revealed. With all cards now available for us to evaluate, the team has completed its poll and we are now ready to share the results. Participating members include Santtu2x, Luissantos, Sergi2Vamos, Lionhart, Johaggis and myself. Each team member provided their evaluation of each card on a 1-5 scale (described below) and every participating member aside from Luis also provided their Top 5 overall cards for the expansion. Overall, the most generous graders were Sergi2Vamos and Lionhart (each with an average 3.5 rating) and the harshest was Santtu2x, coming in with an average of 3.1. With all that out of the way, let’s dive right in to looking at the juicy details.
5. Meta-defining cards or merely extremely powerful ones; some may describe these cards with such terms as “broken” or “overpowered”
4. Very strong card that will prove to be a staple in many lists
3. Competitively viable card but one that only will make its way into meta builds based upon its synergies most likely
2. Underpowered card that would likely need a buff or strong meta shift to see competitive play
1. Incredibly weak card that must be heavily buffed to see competitive play
Participants also sometimes elected to utilize half ratings (such as 4.5) when evaluating cards between the tiers described above. In addition, we must point out that the application of this rating scale itself is extremely subjective in addition to the process of rating the cards which is already subjective. We will likely be wrong for many cards in hindsight when looking back to these ratings, but that is where a lot of the fun lies in evaluating the cards!
Bottom of the Barrell
As with any expansion, many of the cards simply won’t be powerful enough to make the cut in competitive decks due to the small deck size in Gwent. Here we take a look at some of the lowest rated cards on average by our panel.
|Circle of Life||1.2|
|Duen Canell Guardian||1.7|
|War of Clans||1.9|
|Will o' the Wisp||2.0|
|Smoke them out!||2.3|
The title of worst card of the expansion according to us goes to Circle of Life. While we find the value to be quite low, boosting units in the hand is always a dangerous mechanic and this card could enter the scene easily with even just a small buff. Of the lowest rated cards, most are lowly Bronze cards, as to be expected. The only Gold cards to appear on the list are Master Mirror, Herkja Drummond, King Belohun, and, perhaps surprisingly, the Echo card for Scoia’tael in Shaping Nature.
While the chart displays the average rating, this value doesn’t always tell the full story. Some of the lowly cards were met with stark agreement, such as Herkja Drummond and War of Clans, which each had a standard deviation of just 0.2 (meaning only one rater differed by exactly 0.5 from every other rating). Many of the low-rated cards followed a similar pattern of harmony. However, others caused a bit more of a buzz. Some of the flashier effects may have sparked the internal optimist in our panelists, such as King Belohun, which scored a 4.5 from Lionhart (compared to a 2.5 average) and Allgod, which received a 3 and 3.5 from Sergi2Vamos and Lionhart respectively (compared to a 2.3 average).
Middle of the Road
While we won’t look at the exact rating of each card in this section in detail as we did above, there are several highlights that stand out.
Master Mirror will be adding seven Echo cards to the game - one from each faction and one neutral card. Each is a Special card which moves to the top of the owner’s deck from the Graveyard on round start. This lets the user effectively “recycle” its effect. We already saw one of these cards show up in the lower reaches of the ratings in the form of Shaping Nature from Scoia’tael. In the middle of the ratings we may find an additional three. Dies Irae from Syndicate is the next lowest rated (3.3 average), followed by Ard Geath from Monsters (3.7) and Blood Eagle from Skellige (4.1). For various reasons, though mainly due to lack of value generation when considering both uses, these cards fell short of their counterparts in the remaining factions.
Although the cards through the middle of the ratings did not receive top marks across the board, some still showed promise (or lack thereof) with the team. Braathens divided opinions perhaps to the greatest degree, ranging from a rating of 3 from Santtu all the way to a 5 from Luis and Lionhart, who like its flexibility and potential to fit in many decks. On the other end of the spectrum, I brought out my pessimistic side when looking at Ildiko, giving it a lowly 3 point rating compared to an average rating of 4. Time will tell how these cards shake out but one thing is certain and that is we will have a blast trying them out.
Each faction also received cards that are seven provisions and can provide seven points instantly or can provide some minor upside if the Order ability is left unused each turn. This class of cards in particular bemused our panel, with Egmund (3.4), Dunca (3.8), and The Apiarian Phantom (3.0) receiving mixed reviews from everyone polled. Ratings for these cards ranged all the way from a lowly 2 for The Apiarian Phantom to a perfect 5 point score for Dunca from Sergi2Vamos. That is not the last we will hear about this card either, as Sergio seems to be quite fond of its potential.
Cream of the Crop
Now is the time we have all been waiting for, unveiling our top-rated cards of the upcoming set. In total, there were 12 cards rated with an average of 4.5 or higher. Of these, the three remaining Echo cards are included, as well as all six cards featuring the Evolve mechanic. If the Aretuza opinion turns out to be correct, these key new mechanics should make a large impact in shaping the upcoming meta.
|Coup de Grace||5.0|
|Harald an Craite||4.8|
|Jacques de Aldersberg||4.7|
The absolute top of the scale seems to be dominated by Echo cards, with Coup de Grace and Amphibious Assault sweeping the board with a unanimous perfect score. The cards that do not feature either of the main new mechanics (Echo and Evolve) and still reach the Top 12 (Winter Queen, Ulrich, and Forest Protector) each work nicely with new archetypes pushed in the expansion so we will see if these powerhouses are enough to boost those decks to the top of the meta.
Many of the panel’s Top 5 cards look quite similar. As mentioned above, Coup de Grace and Amphibious Assault are shared in every member’s Top 5 list, while Oneiromancy, Harald an Craite, and Winter Queen appear in four of the five lists. The remaining spaces are filled out by Dunca (Sergi2Vamos), Ulrich (Johaggis), and Viraxas (Lionhart). The cards selected in general display a wide range of abilities - from strong tutors to efficient engines and potentially powerful bombs.
And that’s it from us. Do keep in mind that our opinions are highly subjective and likely to be incorrect in many cases. It will take days to weeks or even months to discover some strategies that we missed here, so do not take these ratings as an indictment against trying out any new combos created by the expansion. We also speak with each other about Gwent frequently within the team (of course!) so our opinions in some cases do align as a result of this. The ratings here are to be thought of more as a starting point for discussion than anything. If you have any comments or questions about our thoughts on the expansion, feel free to jump over to our Discord server and ask away; we would be more than happy to discuss with you!
JMJWilson made his first forray into the world of CCG's with Gwent and has been hooked ever since. Since July 2018, he has competed in the game's Pro Rank scene and has participated in most online qualifiers since the official release of Gwent. Wilson serves as a content creator for Aretuza, especially focusing on the monthly Meta Snapshot and the Aretuza Academy projects. He seeks to bring the same analytical mindset to content creation as he does to his own gameplay with the goal of improving others' gameplay experience in whatever way is possible. With the implementation of Gwent Masters Season 2, Wilson aspires to continue his trend of being a consistent competitor in Gwent Masters qualifiers while also remaining committed to coverage of the game's highest level of competition.