Syndicate - A Year Later: featuring Trynet123
Tyler "Trynet123" Nolan
Trynet is a full-time Gwent content creator, streaming everyday on Twitch and uploading regular content to Youtube. He's also the Syndicate Faction Ambassador.
Hi Trynet. First of all, thanks for allowing us to have this interview with you. How are you and what have you been up to in Gwent?
I'm doing well, mostly just been messing around with the new expansion. A lot of my content is built around constantly playing different decks, so really a bit of everything. Last weekend I had the opportunity to cast TLG’s Invitational alongside Johaggis, that was a lot of fun.
What is it like being a Gwent Faction Ambassador, specifically, the Syndicate Faction Ambassador?
It's been interesting having direct discussions with the devs. Really there's not a whole lot of difference between the different faction ambassadors' roles. We're all there to more provide general feedback, not just to focus on our own factions. The exact factions we're representing are more honorary titles, rather than a precise role.
What is your favorite Syndicate card and leader ability?
For leaders, I really like leaders that have an impact throughout the entire game. Hidden Cache and Off the Books aren't the most competitively viable Syndicate leaders at the moment, but they're my favorite designs by far. Leaders like Wild Card or Blood Money really only impact one turn of the game, they happen and then they're done. Off the Books and Hidden Cache really warp the way you build your deck and sequence over the course of the entire game and feel very distinct as a result.
As far as a favorite card, Fence has been one of my favorite cards in the game for awhile. The way it scales with Off the Books is so unique, while the card normally caps out as a 6 for 4 with other leaders, Off the Books reducing the cost also increases the amount of boost you gain, making it play for 2 extra points instead of just 1. Being a spender that takes you off of 9 coins used to be really important too.
Syndicate was released a year ago. For those like me who were not yet playing at the time, could we take a trip down memory lane and have you tell us about the different phases of the Syndicate meta from release day to present?
Let me try to do this from memory, I'm sure somebody will point out that I'm missing something, but these were the major beats for me.
Immediately after release we had the insane bounty deck with unnerfed Whoreson's Freak Show and Blindeye Apothecary. Whoreson's Freak Show then got hotfixed, and bounty quickly emerged as the Syndicate deck of choice. This is back when you could have multiple bounties at once, so the deck often played to a really toxic pattern of, "Slander, Slander, Witch Hunter Executioner, okay now kill everything with Ewald Borsodi / Witch Hunter Executioner."
Eventually they nerfed the bounty mechanic to what it currently is, but then released the DJ leader, or what we know now as the Lined Pockets leader ability. For the first month, rather than Lined Pockets giving you coins when crimes were played, instead you gained leader charges. This lead to some insane round 3s with Townsfolk and occasionally Igor the Hook, as well as just an absurd amount of really granular carryover potential.
Then Lined Pockets got nerfed to what we know it as today, and we entered the Wild Card era, which Tailbot popularized using the Slander + Graden combo for huge swings. The deck was overall still pretty focused on the bounty mechanic, as Witch Hunter Executioner was still a 5 provision bronze instead of the 6 provision bronze it is today. The deck achieved a powerful long round through either Portal with Sly Seductress, or by trying to outscale with bounty. The short round got carried by the Wild Card combo, and Madame Luiza + Savolla.
The next big shift came with Merchants of Ofir, and the introduction of Passiflora and Saul de Navarette. The first iteration of Passiflora was very different than the one we have now. The first one generated a ton of coins and was a bit awkward to play with, still a strong card, but in a different way than the current version. Eventually, they reworked Passiflora into its current form. We had a brief window where Hidden Cache was insane then became bad after a nerf, and that's basically where we're at today. Doesn't look like the latest expansion has done a whole lot for the faction.
What do you think was the best and the worst meta Syndicate had?
Syndicate was definitely at its most dominant right after release, the Whoreson's Freak Show deck was nuts, and even after the hotfix, the remaining bounty deck was insane. The worst might be right now. I'm struggling to think of a time Syndicate wasn't in the short list for best faction, but it's pretty clearly in the bottom 2-3 right now, at least with the decks we know about.
What Syndicate meta did you enjoy the most?
For a single deck, I liked the pre-rework Passiflora deck; managing your resources with that deck was a lot of fun. As far as full metas though, the couple month window after the Novigrad expansion where everybody was still figuring out all the tools the faction had was definitely when I played the most decks. It was one of the few times I actually got to play an Off the Books list and didn't just feel like I was playing a strictly worse version of another Syndicate deck, which seems like a common feel for the faction these days.
The same Syndicate archetype with its stagnant set of golds has been viable in the competitive scene for more or less than a year now across four leader abilities. What are your thoughts on this?
Yeah, this is a big part of why I play so little Syndicate. They seem to be having problems making different archetypes good, without just becoming splashing packages into the midrange pile, the payoffs seem nonexistent for most archetypes. You play all the most efficient Syndicate cards, then just pick whichever leader/leader package gives you the desired matchup spread. You've sorta got the crimes deck as a distinct deck, but ehhhh.
What do you think Syndicate lacks at the moment?
Good payoffs for their archetypes. For as maligned as Hidden Cache was, the Hidden Cache deck was the closest thing Syndicate has had to a cohesive deck since the Lined Pockets meta. Syndicate is in a weird spot where all of these splash packages are so independently strong, that if you give them good support you just break the game. Hidden Cache did this to the hoard package. Their solution to this with Master Mirror seemed to be to push the archetype not being played as a splash package, Firesworn, but it so far it seems like they didn't push it hard enough.
What changes do you want to see for Syndicate in future expansions.
More archetype payoffs.
In the current Master Mirror expansion, CDPR tried to push for the Firesworn Swarm / Crime archetype but had been met with mediocre impressions from the community. Could you please tell us your experience with this.
The swarm deck definitely has good matchups, but the Skellige deck is not one of them. The types of cards they made for it are really strange too. Normally, the benefit of a swarm deck is that you go wide instead of tall, and make cards like Nature's Rebuke worse since you scale off of cards like Bone Talisman, or Dies Irae, rather than more centralized engines.
In exchange, wide punish is really strong against you, and you need to worry about row capping in long rounds. With Firesworn though, all the payoffs play into tall removal. Fallen Knight, Eternal Fire Priest, even Procession of Penance all give your opponent value out of effects you’d archetypically be trying to brick. You also don’t deny value from cards like Nature's Rebuke, since you play engines that take some time to grow out of range of these effects. Lastly, you’re still really soft to wide removal. Instead of the new Firesworn cards doubling down on swarm’s strengths, they ignore them and instead just create more weaknesses.
Do you have any message to the Gwent community, your viewers, fans, and subscribers?
Luis has been a gamer for most of his life. His first console was a Playstation 1 which he got at age 7. A few years later, he acquired a Gameboy Advance that became his gateway to the Pokemon series. He spent multiple hours playing through the Kanto and Hoenn Region with his friends. In 2011, he started playing Dota 1 and was his entry to the MOBA genre of games. Shortly after, he started playing League of Legends which he played from 2012 to 2017. Towards the end of the year 2017, he bought a Playstation 4 and played Destiny 2 and a few single player games on the side such as God of War, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and Witcher 3 which he enjoyed the most. His first exposure to Gwent was back in Witcher 3. He realized that he was spending most of his time playing Gwent and collecting all the cards instead of doing side quests and story quests. Fast forward to 2019, he found out that Gwent, the standalone game, would be released on iOS. On the release day itself last October, he immediately downloaded the game and chose Northern Realms as his first faction since this is the faction he played the most back in Witcher 3 Gwent.