Discussion: Should row punish cards be buffed?

witcher gwent cards

It's always struck me as a bit odd that tall punish is autoinclude to the point that many decks run 2-3 tall punish cards, yet no row punish at all. I've been mulling this over for a bit, and I think it's a good time to consider the row punish situation, and whether row punish should be buffed.

First of all, let's look at the lower and upper bounds of row and tall punish cards, as well as their average case.

Tall punish has a floor of roughly 6 points. It's extremely rare for tall punish cards to find less value than this, outside the Geralt cards. I'd say that tall punish finds an "average" value of maybe 10 points, though that's more of a feeling than an exact value. Tall punish truly has no ceiling, and there have been times when I've even played Spores for upwards of 20-30 points. When a 4p bronze can play for more than most golds, it isn't hard to see why tall punish is strong.

Now let's look at row punish.

Row punish comes in a variety of flavors. The main row punish cards worth considering are Gerd, Yrden, and Lacerate. I'm not interested in discussing Yrden here, as it is and always will be entirely it's own beast. Since Gerd is locked to Skellige, so let's focus on Lacerate.

Lacerate has a floor of roughly 4 points. Occasionally two, but this is quite rare. Lacerate also has a ceiling of 18 points, but it's quite rare for it to reach this point. I'd say Lacerate can comfortably play for around 8 points in many cases, but there's a caveat: it often damages units that are going to be hit by tall punish. For every tall punish target hit, you must subtract two points, since those points were already going to be erased by the tall punish card. Thus, I think that lacerate probably ends up as a 7 for 7 in most cases. Given this, it isn't hard to see why lacerate isn't really ever played.

So what can be done? What should be done?

A core paradigm underlying Gwent is the old adage "don't put all your eggs in one basket". This often plays out in various forms, such as "Don't put all your points on one card", "don't put all your boosts in one row", "don't play all your golds in one round", and so forth. I think that it's reasonable that you should be able to punish your opponent for doing anything to an excess. And at the end of a long round, it's reasonable that many cards will play above their provisioned value, simply due to their value scaling in proportion to the development of board state. By this alone, row punish could be due for a buff.

At the same time, we have to consider how a change to row punish interacts with the various row-stacking payoff cards: Gezras of Leyda, Great Oak, Mahakam Guard, Lyrian Scytheman, Chimera, and the new Sabbath cards. Buffing row punish might have the effect of pushing these cards out of the meta, possibly forever. Is that what we want? I don't think so.

This is an open discussion, so I can't say everyone will come to the same conclusion. However, my belief is that row (and wide) punish needs a slight buff.

Here is what I suggest:

  • Lacerate should become a 6 provision card.

  • Stammelford's Tremors should become a 5 provision card.

  • There should be a neutral 4p card that damages all units on a row by 1. It should probably be a unit with a very small body. Maybe one of the bandits could get this ability?

  • Surrender should damage all units on an enemy row by 3, but its provisions should be increased to at least 10.

  • Dragon's Dream should have its damage increased to 4 and provisions to 12. 4 is a lot of damage, but your opponent has 2 entire turns to prepare. Or pass.

  • Hemdall should be buffed to 10 provisions. (Unrelated, but I think Falibor should be 10 prov as well)

  • Gerd is fine exactly where he is.

  • Armorer's Workshop could act as an anti row punish card for decks that know they will rely on row stacking. If row punish were buffed to the point that it became fairly common, this would become a 12 for 5. Very strong. It could also become an artifact: "Zeal. Order: Buff three adjacent units by 1 and give them 1 armor. Charge: 2"

  • Great Oak should receive the Harmony tag. This will likely amount to a 1-2 point buff, which should be enough to fully justify its 13 provisions.

What do you think? Comment below!

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/gwent/comments/o4q73i/discussion_should_row_punish_cards_be_buffed/

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