Is the Monsters Faction OP? Rethaz Responds

Gwent's Lead Game Designer "rethaz" joined the discussion over on reddit yesterday, responding to a user claiming the Monsters faction currently enjoys a higher winrate and popularity than Skellige did in the previous meta. You can read his full words below but we've also summarized his main points:

Quote from TL;DR

  • At the top end of the ladder, Monsters is not more popular than Skellige was in the previous patch
  • At one point, Crach an Craite decks represented over 50% of the ladder. This dropped a bit once the meta settled
  • Representation of Monsters is currently high, but the faction has always been popular since the first day of closed beta.
  • There are many viable options in Gwent and he is a bit dissapointed that not many people choose to explore this but instead just copy whatever the "trend setters" say is good or bad.
  • Weather is not "dead", and they're seeing good playrates for it. They're much happier where it currently is than how it was in the previous patch.
  • They are not happy with the massive point swings from Bekker's Twisted Mirror
  • Nilfgaard is the faction most punished by Consume decks
  • Consume is an archetype that a lot of players enjoy as a playstyle, and they don't want to push it out
  • One of the core problems in balancing Consume decks is that certain cards spawn specific Bronze units
  • Because of this, cards like Arachas Behemoth and Celaeno Harpy and others will be getting unique tokens in the next major content update
  • They don't want to destroy their synergies, but feel like it gives them more control to tweak the balance if they can change tokens separately from the main card.

This statement is flawed. Skellige had a higher popularity rate than Monsters currently does at the top end of MMR in the last patch. GWENT up is missing information from a lot of players. At one point Crach was representing 50% of decks in the top few hundred players. Once the meta established more this dropped to a more reasonable number.

Representation of Monsters is very high in this meta, but this is actually generally the historical norm since even the first day of Closed Beta back in October.

I know this statement is going to be met with a lot of hostility and frustration, but I will risk it anyway and hope people will try to be reasonable and engage in a sensible discussion and analysis.

There are many, many viable options in GWENT and sadly a lot of people choose not to explore them. Generally trend setters state something is good / bad and it becomes so for the community.

A good example of this would be the recent outcry about how weather would be "dead" in this patch. Weather is very much not dead, and before you jump on that point and claim that only Impenetrable Fog is being used because of Dagon, that isn't the case. We are seeing good play rates in line with what we'd like for weather cards at the moment and we're much happier with where it is currently at than in the last patch.

There's a lot of complaints currently that Monsters are "OP" due to the representation we are seeing. And also due to some GWENT up data, which is flawed.

So lets look at these Monsters decks as an example:


So if we look at the above decks I'll cover a few issues to get us started. I am not stating we are doing this, we may, we may not, this is a purposeful start of a discussion point.

One issue that Nilfgaard players can find frustrating is that their own units are buffed against them. This can be frustrating, as you're playing into your opponent's strategy, while to some of you this will seem like it should be this way. There is an argument to say that spying units shouldn't be buffable, this allows spying units to disrupt buffing strategies and from the Nilfgaard players perspective it will be more fun and rewarding. Obviously on the flip side, for the Monster player it is going to be the reverse.

Another card that can cause Frustration is Bekker's Twisted Mirror. Again this is likely the most harsh in the case of Nilfgaard as they are often having high power board presence though units such as Joachim de Wett, Spotters etc. The point swings that end up as a result of this card are something we aren't really happy with right now, obviously you lose the points and the opponent gains them so in many cases the swing can be far above the intended value of a silver card. There's obviously draw backs to this card and it doesn't always work.

However when looking at things like this, Nilfgaard, more so than any other faction is "punished" in this match up more so than other factions, and faction bias is something we've been working on a lot to bring more inline. From our perspective during some metas the game becomes too Rock, Paper, Scissors oriented, addressing that and ensuring it doesn't happen is not straightforward and obviously a large challenge. A good example of this is Savage Bear / Weather keeping consume out of popular play in the most recent update. Consume is an archetype which a great deal of players enjoy (not because of its power, but because of its play-style) and therefore its important that this isn't just pushed out, the same can be said for other play-types also.

Another core issue that these decks / Monsters currently suffers from is that there's some recursion with spawning. E.G. Arachas Behemoth and Celaeno Harpy spawning Bronze units. I can tell you that those cards as well as some others, will be getting unique token cards in the next Major content update. That doesn't mean we want to remove the synergies that exist there, but it gives us more control as tweaks to the tokens obviously don't effect the master cards.

But anyway, I digress and this has become very long :) so rather than going through every single thing, I'm interested to see what people feel is out of balance to such a large degree to warrant the complaints we're having regarding Monsters being "unbalanced".

Don't misunderstand this as me saying we need you to tell us what to do, that ins't the case and sometimes this statement gets thrown around. Further to which its sometimes said that we don't know what we want from the game. We do, very much so.

We have very long term plans for it and some big things coming over the next year, however we don't want to reveal things as often in game development things change, for a large variety of reasons. We don't want to announce things and then disappoint people if we need to change our plans.

Feel free to link people to this to facilitate discussion, I'll be reading the replies, even if I don't comment, like I do with every thread :)


Any thoughts on why monsters seem to always has a high representation even despite all the nerfs? Other than great balancing and the fact that they are monsters of course.

I already see some replies below talking about Monsters not being nerfed in Public Beta and that's why they are popular.

But, I am talking more historically here. We've had metas where monsters were considered the worst faction by our top players and deemed "unplayable". Yet during the same meta they were the most prevalent faction by over 20%.

There's many factors, some of which will seem silly, but in large part when you aren't talking about the top end of the game where people are min maxing, Monsters are for many the most visually interesting and diverse cards. And therefore in many ways, the most appealing.

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