Brief Summary of Build
I'm currently working on making each Starter Deck work without huge investments, so that new players can enjoy competitive play right from the beginning.
Here is the first deck that turned out to be good - and it is just 440 scraps so even new players can afford it right after finishing the challenges. I played this deck from rank 15 to 17 for twenty games and had a winrate of 65% (W13 - D1 - L6), being able to defeat top tier decks such as alchemy and reveal. Although this might not be representative for higher ranks, it might still get around 40% in competitive play, which is pretty good for such a cheap deck. After all my goal is to help new players to keep up and enable them to finish quest, so that they can build a tier 1 deck themself as soon as possible.
The Monster Starter Deck comes with huge creatures and some fog synergy. This deck takes advantage of both, being able to generate quick value as well as value over time. I know that it might not look impressive, but after playing it for a while I'm very confident that it is the best deck that you can playing as a new player.
It is basicly the only combo we have. Altough I wouldn't call it a combo, a great way to create a threat is to play a fog activator and then follow up with Ancient Foglets. Ancient Foglets grow in value over time and cannot be removed by Alzur's Thunder. If your opponent manages to get rid of fog without losing much value, you can just recast fog. If he loses value to remove fog, e.g. by playing Clear Sky, you should consider a pass.
The best way to figure out how to play a deck is by actually playing it. This is a deck that plays different against alchemy based decks then it does against moonlight based decks. To be able to win as many games as possible you should learn the typical archetypes to know which cards they run and which they don't.
Generally you shouldn't try to win the first round by any cost. In Gwent there are differences between good victories and bad victories, depending on how much cards you need to win. Winning by having the equal amount of cards in your hand as your opponent is considered a very good victory. Winning by having one card less is fine too but obviously worse. Losing with one card more in your hand is okay too, but it's a lot worse then winnig with one card less. There are also bad victories: winning with 2 cards down is terrible. You never want such a victory.
In Round 1 you should always look on your score, especially if you go first. If you go first, you never want to be behind on scores after playing your cards so always count the score at the end of the round. If your opponent would still be head after your play, pass instead. If you go second, you can fall behind by a little bit, but only if you can definitly catch up within two rounds. If you cannot - pass.
When your opponent plays a draw 1 card spy like Cantarella, you should also pass if it's the first Round.
If you win Round 1, pass Round 2 in order to have a longer Round 3 and to able to counter their finishing card with Dudu or to play Gerald without being countered. If you lose, you obviously need to win.
Good Passing in Round 1 is the key to victory in almost any match-up so you have to play this deck and figure out the perfect timing.
Your win-rate will be higher if you know the purpose of each card, so here is a little summary of each card and how you want to play it:
Fiend - This unit is just a huge body. Since it has no effects beside it's huge strength, you can always play this card as long as you keep your lead on scores. We want our Fiends to be at the graveyard in round 2 and 3, so we can play our Ghouls for 15.
Archgriffin - This unit is not the best by itself, however it's still a huge body for our Ghouls to consume and it's able to clear a hazard which can give this card huge power. If you play against decks that use many hazads, consider passing a round instead - especially if it's a 2 or 3 row hazard. If they don't, you can treat it like a Fiend if you're not playing against Nilfgaard.
Never play this card too early against Nilfgaard, since they can use it against your fog.
Ancient Foglet - Again a huge body, but this one can grown over time if fog is played. In most cases you want to play a fog first and follow up by one or more Ancient Foglets. However this combination is most effective in Round 3, since opponents might pass if they see your Hazards and Ancient Foglets combined, but this combination still viable in Round 1 against opponents who don't want to pass, so you don't have to save it for your third round.
Ghoul - If you have one of the units above in your graveyard, this card becomes one of your keys to victory. You can play this card for 14 or 15 value. On top of that you can capitalize on spies played by your opponent. Just go for the strongest unit at the graveyard.
Foglet - You don't want to keep your Foglets in your hand. Try to put them back to your deck on each mulligan.
Impenetrable Fog - Solid card in this deck. However be careful, since this card is only useful over time. You should only play this card, if you don't lose your lead on scores and if it can be played on a row with 10 or more value. Playing Fog directly is dangerous, because it's only 6 points in value (2 + 1 Foglet with 4). In most cases you want to keep this card for Round 3. Your other fog options are more viable in Round 1 and 2.
Toad Prince - This card is irreplaceable. Toad Prince makes this deck more dynamic. You can use it to consume a Fiend. This will allow you to play a Ghoul in Round 1, giving you 32 points of value in 2 rounds. If you don't have a Fiend, just use your Griffins instead. Great tempo card.
Roach - If you draw it, put it away immediately before your Foglets. This card needs to be in your deck.
Vaedermakar - This card is used to generate fog and pull out a foglet. It has 10 points of value immediately and gives you more value over time. On top of that you can use Alzurs Thunder to destroy one key card of your opponent. We have 4 fog activators in this deck, so playing Alzurs Thunder won't be a total waste.
Ifrit - This card is quite bad but still better then the other silver cards. You can count it as 14 Points of value, if your opponent has something on the board. Can be replaced by any decent silver card.
Dudu - This card can reach insane value, but needs to be perfectly timed. Sometimes it's just 10 Points of value or even worse. It's not very consistent and therefore can be replaced by almost any silver card.
Manticore Venom - Use this card to destroy your opponents key cards. Can be replaced by almost anything - even by Commanders Horn, which is another free card. I prefer venom nevertheless, but feel free to change it to Commanders Horn. First card to replace.
Woodland Spirit - If the opponent has 10 or more value in one row, this is our best play in Round 1. You want to play Woodland Spirit in your first or second round turn, since it pulls out Roach and Foglet (therefore reduces chances of drawing them), creates fog and makes Ancient Foglets viable. This card has an immediate value of 18 (5+3+4+4+2) and forces your opponent to react to fog.
18 plus hazard is a lot to deal with, so your opponent might pass. If he decides to keep on playing, you should follow up with one or more Ancient Foglets. This will force him to remove your fog or suffering 3 or more points of value each turn. Either way you will have an upper hand, because removing your fog means you can play another one and pull one more Foglet out of your Deck.
Geralt of Rivia - Huge body. Can be used to pull out roach if you don't have Woodland Spirit or Triss in your opening hand. Hold this card in your hand in order to keep up with the value of your opponent. Best used as a finisher or after fog has been used in Round 1 or 2, to stretch the lenth of the round and therefore get more value out of fog.
This card can be replaced by almost anything.
Triss Merigold - Best way to pull out roach, if you go second and have no Woodland Spirit in your opening Hand. Against Adda it should be used to destroy her Kaedweni Revenant and against other swarm decks it can destroy one unit, so that your opponent has less cards to buff. You can also use it for the same purpose as Geralt, so it's a little bit better.
This card can be replaced by almost anything, but first replace Geralt.
Royal Decree - If you don't have Woodland Spirit in your opening hand, this might save you. Although Royal Decree doesn't pull roach, it still pulls a Foglet, reducing the change of drawing one on the following turn. 16 Value and a Hazard is still good, so use it to play Woodland Spirit the same way you would without this card.
This card might also be replaced, but it has more value then Gerald or Triss.
Dagon - If you miss Woodland Spirit as well as Royal Decree you can still play fog with Dagon and pull out a Foglet. This play has a value of 14 which is still good enough and beeing able to play Dagon is always a good safety net.
These are the cards you should swap for other cards at the beginning of a round - ordered by priority:
3. Gold Card other then Royal Decree - if you have Royal Decree in your hand and there are no gold units left in your deck
4. Ghoul - if your graveyard is empty and you don't have Toad Prince in your hand
If you have big units at your graveyard, you want to keep your ghouls instead. They provide good value.
I often read that playing weather based decks is bad at a beginner level as low level players are using cards like First Light to protect themself from weather effects. However First Light is far from being a great counter to a one row weather effect. If you play Impenetrable Fog and pull one Foglet, your rival might negate it's effect but you will still be one Foglet ahead. So don't be afraid of being countered.
Nevertheless there are some great counterplays to weather effects. One way to counter fog Decks is to play Greatsword-Skellige, which often even benefit from a hazard. If you lose to a Greatsword-Deck - don't worry. You're not playing bad, it's just that this Deck doesn't work against them. On the other hand this deck destorys moonlight based decks.
In order to upgrade this deck I've made a package, that is able to upgrade this deck as well as all of my other cheap decks at once, making them competitive at higher ranks.
Take a look at this improved list of this cheap monster deck. It's basicly the same idea, with more power and tools, making it more dynamic. This list was able to reach a 58% winrate with almost all games played at Rank 20 with 4k+ MMR, which is a very good ratio.
This is a guide for new players, but I know that most players reading that are more experienced. Feel free to try it out yourself and to recommand it to your Friends starting with Gwent.
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