Mill - A Gwent Deck Spotlight
May 3, 2018 by Green Cricket
One of the harder decks to play, Mill shakes up the usual Gwent gameplay by offering an alternative win condition.
In this article, we analyze milling in general, how you need to change your mindset while playing it and we take a look at a deck core, that has good synergy with Mill!
Table of contents
In this article you will find:
- The Definition of Milling and what makes it interesting
- An analysis of win conditions
- A spotlight of the Soldier Archetype as deck core
- A guide on how to approach the different matchups
- The article in video form (scroll down to the bottom)
Definition of Milling
For players who are new to Gwent: Milling means that you make the enemy draw more cards than they have in their deck.
This enables you to draw cards, while the enemy is not able to do so anymore, granting you a card surplus, which is one of the most powerful advantages to have in Gwent.
Also, you destroy the enemy's deck combos by making them draw cards; they never wanted to draw.
Dun Banner is the best example.
This will further increase your power, since all of your draws are viable, while the ones of your enemy are not.
In a nutshell: Mill punishes consistency and Mill shines in solved metas at the end of ranked seasons, where most of the people are playing similar decks, that are very optimised and consistent, meaning they are often thinning down near to 0 cards on they own (think of Coinflip Elves, Veterans, etc.)
Also, the decklists are known to you, meaning that you know exactly when to use Sweers and how many brick potential is in them.
When you play Mill you need to be very clear about your winning conditions and how likely it is that you will achieve them.
So at the start of the match, you have to ask yourself:
"Am I able to mill the enemy?"
Win Condition #1: Mill
If the answer is yes, then we do everything to mill our opponent, winning round 1 even two cards down, depending on the matchup even three cards down.
For that we utilise following cards:
Avallach makes you and your enemy draw two cards, Albrich draws one card and reveals the drawn one of your enemy's.
Stregobor draws 1 unit for every player and sets it to 1, and Shilard even lets you draw a card from each deck and then choose which one you want to give to your enemy.
By using Decoy, we can play our Silvers again, enabling us to remove six cards from the enemy's deck already.
And then there is Sweers, which lets every Nekker player cry out in terror.
Sweers lets you pick an enemy unit on the board and put all cards of that unit from the deck to the graveyard, typically thinning the enemy deck by 1 or 2.
This can make the life of your enemy hard, by disrupting their game flow like putting all Greatswords into the graveyard or all machines, that Henselt would have liked to pull.
Use Sweers before you start thinning the enemy’s deck for maximum impact.
Let's say the enemy starts with 25 cards.
10 will be drawn in round one, 2 in round two and 1 in round three, meaning that 12 cards will be left in the deck.
Depending on the matchup, they will thin 5-7 cards on their own, by using cards like Elven Mercenary, Pirate Captain, Spearmaiden, Spy and so on, meaning that there are 5 -7 cards left to us to mill.
If we utilize all our mill cards and hit a decent Sweers, then we can get 6-9 cards out of the enemy, already denying the enemy from drawing cards.
In addition, we are disrupting their deck by giving them dead Mercenaries, Pirate Captains, Wardancers, Dun Banners, Slyzards, but also Vesimirs, Whispesses and so on.
And then there are Vilgefortz and Tibor, which lets your enemy draw a card in exchange for the crazy power of those cards.
But if your enemy doesn't have any cards left in the deck, then you can play Vilgefortz and Tibor for easy 25 points each, and the enemy can't do anything against that.
But what happens if, at the beginning of the game, we realise that we probably are not able to mill the enemy, because we are playing against 40 cards Foltest or the enemy can adapt against us and decide that he is not going to thin that heavy.
Win Condition #2: Deck Core
Then we need to rely on our second win condition, which is utilizing the deck beneath all the mill cards.
Depending on the meta and your preferences, you can choose which deck you choose as your core, but currently, I would go with Soldiers or Alchemy.
Soldiers have more synergies with the long rounds generated by our mill part, while Alchemy has consistent value output and removal, which is better in other matchups.
In this article, I’ll focus on the Soldier version, but the Alchemy version is equally viable (more in some matchups, less in others).
In the Soldier core variant, we use Alba Armored Cavalry, which buffs itself for each unit played afterwards and Standard Bearer, which buffs a unit by 2 for every soldier played.
By using Recruits and Slave Infantry, we then swarm the board with soldiers, buffing up each Cavalry by 4 and triggering each Standard Bearer twice, getting us tons of points on the board already.
We finish the point symphony by using Sentries (which are Soldiers as well) on Slave Infantry, which are 26 point plays on their own plus all the value from Standard Bearers and Cavalry.
We have two options to approach the match if we need to rely on our second win condition
Option 1 - Mill first, push later
Option 1 is that we start by playing all our low-value cards, which are all our mill cards and save the soldiers and other combo tools like Decoy for round 3.
Through the mill cards, we can get more soldiers on hand, setting up a long round 3.
We do this against decks, which don't thin at all and can't be milled even if the stars align.
Option 2: - Push first, mill later
Option 2 is that we are starting off with soldiers, putting value on the board and saving mill cards for round 3.
We choose this option against decks, which we probably could mill, but we either didn't draw the cards we need, or the enemy can play around our thinning.
Typically those decks then have shitty cards left in the deck, which give them no or very few points at all.
By playing your mill cards in round 3, you force the enemy to draw those, but since there is no mulligan left, they will be stuck with that card, while every card you draw will have solid points.
Compare a late round Sentry draw compared to an enemy's Dun Banner draw.
Regardless of your goal, try to win round 1, because if the enemy controls round 2, they will either try to 2:0 you or they will split your rounds in a way, that you won't get value from soldiers.
Last, but not least we have some supporting cards, which can help both win conditions:
Decoy lets you replay cards like Sweers, Stregobor, Albrich, Slave Infantry and Recruits to further push into the direction you want.
Runestone can either give you value or create more mill cards, maybe even second Sweers.
Nilfgaardian Gate has two targets: Sweers or Slave Driver and is used to access Sweers in round 1.
If you can mill the enemy, then you want to have following cards in your hand:
- Your Mill cards
- Nilfgaardian Gate
Card you want to get rid off are:
- Sweers if you have Gate on hand
- Standard Bearers
If you need to default back to your Soldier Win condition, then you need to decide on your approach: Will your you use your Mill cards for better average value in round 3 and push round 1?
If yes, then just get as many Soldiers on your hand as possible.
Try to have Sentries on hand in the case you also have Recruit available, because otherwise, Recruit may pull you a Sentry earlier than you would have liked.
They have a lot of thinning cards like Pirate Captain, Spearmaiden and Crach himself, so go for mill!
Try to hit a Corsair with Sweers, before you start dropping your mill cards because typically those are not kept on hand, and they will dissolve when put onto the graveyard, disallowing any Light Longship resurrections in future rounds as well as rendering Pirate Captains useless, if your enemy has Light Longships on their hands.
Let one Greatsword become big and when it resurrects in round 3 use an offensive Vilgefortz to get rid of it.
Greatsword players only have Coral as removal, so don't buff one soldier, but spread the buffing on many soldiers so that Coral won't find value.
Veterans like to thin as well, so Mill as much as you can to get those extra cards in round 3.
It is essential that you control round 2 in this matchup because Veterans can throw big points in a brief amount of time, bleeding you in round 2.
Sweers onto Priestess of Freya can obliterate their round 3 because typically they are saving them in the deck using Reconnaissance to get them later.
This is one of the nightmare matchups.
The newer lists typically run no Priestess of Freyas, so with a bit of luck, you can deny some Axemen by sweering them and play one long round with all your soldiers.
Milling may give them dead Corsairs, but if they manage to get weather on the board and you don't high roll into weather clear through Runestone, then long rounds will be your demise, so focussing on soldiers is probably the best alternative.
Some people say praying helps as well.
They like long rounds and so do your soldiers.
Get hit by their Cleaver combo and take round 1 going two cards down.
Start milling immediately, to make them get a suboptimal hand with Aelirenn, dead Mercenaries, Wardancers and so on, giving them even more reason to abandon round 1 quickly.
Your soldiers can take on their elven Swarm and don't be afraid if they have more cards than you, because the value of your cards will be higher than theirs.
You cannot mill them, so we try to brick them!
Sweers on Vicovaro Novice early will deny them the choice between Mahakam Ale and Ointments and in addition, we play all Mill cards in round 1.
Try to get that swarm going in round 3 or the enemy will overtake you in split rounds!
Don't be afraid of the two cards down in round 1.
Sweer their Alchemists and disable them from revealing their Fire Scorpions again and again.
Thanks to their Golems and Daerlan Soldiers, they will thin quite a bit on their own, so you should be able to mill them properly.
Deathwish has a lot of burst potential, so good Sweer targets are D'AO, Griffins and Cyclops to prevent that combo from happening.
By aggressively milling you may brick their Slyzards, so try to push round 1 with your Soldiers and then use your mill cards in round 3!
If you can, keep Vilgefortz for their Nova play!
Sweers is your best friend.
Wait until they did their Nekker setup, playing 3 Nekker Warriors and then use Sweers to get all their Nekkers into the graveyard.
If they know that Mill is coming for them, often they only play 2 Nekker Warriors, so they can develop more Nekkers after Sweers hit.
In that case, I would wait with Sweers until they have already used some consume units like Arachas Queen, Vran Warrior and such and you have the feeling they will be pulling more Nekkers out soon, to secure round 1.
If you hit Sweers in that situation, then it doesn't matter if they can play a third Nekker Warrior again, because the Nekkers won't grow that big anymore.
Also by using your Mill cards, you will give them very under average bronze cards, which your Soldiers will out-tempo for sure.
40 card Foltest
You can't mill this deck, but you definitely can give them a bad hand.
One of 40 card Foltest decks biggest struggles are their Mulligans since they have tons of card in the deck, which they don't want to have in their hand like:
Temerians, Weather, Dun Banner, multiple Witch Hunters and so on.
By playing Mill cards, you'll assure that those cards will land on your enemy's hand, making his average card power lower, while yours is climbing with every soldier you get.
Use Sweer in combination with Emyr and Decoy to get rid of Battering Rams or Reinforced Ballistas they get from Winch and further make his Henselt worse with your other Mill cards.
Go all-in in round 1 and utilise the fact, that they will get worse draws than you from your Mill cards!
As usual, here is the guide in video form!