As the title indicates, I've managed to get to pro without using any faction cards at all, excluding leader abilities, and I would like to use this opportunity to talk about something that is very important to me – player creativity, progression, and individuality.
Before I move on to the reason why I'm here, let me quickly introduce myself. I have been making content for Gwent for over a year now, streaming on Twitch predominantly, but also writing articles and working on all kinds of stuff for
The very reason why I started making content for Gwent and partly why I also decided to undergo these challenges and share my results here was to encourage people to trust themselves more as players, deckbuilders most particularly, but I'll get to what I mean by that in a moment.
The Neutral Deck
First of all, let me quickly cover the Neutral deck that I (mainly) got to Pro with. In addition to it consisting of Neutral cards only, which is a significant limitation, I also banned a few cards for myself to make things more interesting. These being: Geralt Yrden, Shupe and Radeyah. The reasoning behind this was: A) To get to the core of neutral cards and their synergies, rather than to just get one of each as a filler and get carried by the most lovable Troll in the universe and his Mage friend and B) To not autowin many matchups by the "Oops, I've got my Uno Reverse Card for this round" effect that Geralt Yrden Has.
You can see or download and try the deck by clicking right
The leader ability I found to be most useful after a few experiments turned out to be Guerilla Tactics. The reason for this? Well, it is very good with one of the few things that actually can carry a neutral deck, and that is bombs and Madoc. Most of them deal 4 damage which is pretty good, but won't answer all threats that you might encounter. Nonetheless, with the extra 2 damage from your leader you can answer Hamadryads, Barbegazis/Slyzards and other pesky targets. Movement can align +3 damage from Madoc's order effect as well and finally even if you play against uninteractive decks you can just boost your units if you want. GT is just a very versatile ability that I could not imagine winning against Viy, Lined (Crownsplitter) Pockets and other powerful decks without.
Bronze slots were predominantly dedicated to A) Bombs for aforementioned reasons and B) Armor synergy, which is probably the best you can go for as it allows you to send carryover to R3 with troubadours and Living Armor and also gives you the only reasonable, yet rather vulnerable, engine that you can get, Iron Falcon Infantry. I also got one copy of Spores, no need to introduce this card.
Golds consist of midrange/control cards such as Bomb-Juggling Tele-Triss or Korathi Heatwave without which you'd autolose against NG, as you cannot push as hard in R1/R2 usually to bleed out Ball every single time. Dorregaray, Frenzied Dao and Aguara that all play for decent value even if you don't use them for countering something. Francis Bedlam for carryover potential in R1. Muzzle, which is crucial against SY to answer Cleaver. And a few cards with finisher potential such as Living Armor, Uma and Vivienne (which will get boosted by Francis most often and can play as a 15-20 point swing easily in R3).
My overall winrate during the climb ended up being 67.4% with 227 games played altogether, nonetheless many of these were against low level players and I also kept on updating the deck during the climb. This all took about 65 hours. If you were interested, you can also check out the very final game that I recorded that turned out to be most unusual
Now, the message that I'd like to share with you and use this all as an example to emphasize it even further would be to encourage many of you, especially beginner players, to step out out of your comfort zone, to trust your growing instincts, and not to succumb to only relying on already established decks from Meta reports or your favorite streamers.
Before I'll continue, let me say that I don't think there is anything wrong about netdecking per se. It get's annoying when you only play against a certain deck all the time, but it is something inevitable that the game will experience repeatedly, there will always be a most efficient strategy avaliable at any point and people will want to play with it. My problem with this all lies elsewhere though and it is a bit more specific.
Maybe I should use an example again to explain what I mean by that exactly. Well then, the very first netdeck I encountered during this climb was on rank 27, it was Lined Pockets. Yes, I repeat, Lined pockets on rank 27. The person had absolutely no idea what they were doing, so I doubt it was a smurf account, but it any case, it indicates a problem that the game suffers from.
The issue I've got with this is that I think that virtually any player has enough potential to be good at this game without relying on such oversaturated, and very often overpowered or oppressive decks, yet very few do. Reaching pro rank, for instance, can be done with any reasonably built deck, for as long as you understand it. In my case, for instance, it took me a whole year (with a few breaks from the game included) to get to Pro for the first time after Homecoming had come out. It felt like huge achievement the first time I did it and I think it was especially so, as I did it my way, with decks that were deliberately limited in their design. I got to Pro every season after that, because I just grew as a player.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not asking anyone to play with Neutral-Only abominations, of course, I'm only using this as an example to showcase that you can get to Pro with almost anything, even stupid decks like this, if you know what you're doing. Nonetheless, very few people seem to try even B or C tier decks from meta reports this season, which just seems absurd to me, and here I'm getting closer again to the core of what I'd like to say.
A very significant number of my opponents this season were Lined Pockets SY, possibly even the most common deck I've been encountering in the final sprint through Gwent purgatory AKA ranks 7-0. Nonetheless, almost all of my opponents had absolutely, but absolutely no idea what they were doing. Overfilling all the time, throwing away finishers as openings in R1, and allowing me to win with a deck that shouldn't win ever in such a situation. And it is like this every single season, people play with the strongest deck according to meta reports, but I don't believe it makes them inherently better at the game. This is especially noticeable this season, as SY is a very difficult faction to grasp, especially if you never played with it until it became meta.
If I can beat Lined Pockets with a neutral deck, you can beat it with anything if you'll be patient enough.
My message to you, especially if you're beginner or intermediate players, would be: If you're having trouble with climbing, or achieving your goals, getting a strong deck might help you with climbing that very season, but it will not necessarily push you forward in a long term scope. Try not to suppress your own ideas, try to trust yourself more, explore and experiment. Whatever you're trying to play with might not work for you at that very moment, but if you'll keep on trying, if you'll keep on trying for a long time, at some point you will make progress, either on the ladder, or, more importantly, in your head as a player.
You will improve even if you play with a Top Tier Meta deck, I wouldn't dare to argue against that. After all, everyone will know what you are doing, you're playing with revealed cards, but I believe you are very susceptible to losing hope in your own creativity by doing so. Try to adjust such decks, make your own spins and variants, be critical even of the work of the best players in the world, ask questions, discuss it with the rest of the community, but please, just don't get into this blind mode of playing only with the one strong deck that cannot be improved or changed. It doesn't matter if you improve or worsen the deck, but you'll learn through that experience and you will understand the deck and the game better by doing so. By lacking something out of sudden, by underperfming against a certain decks, by missing a certain element.
If you're new to the game it will be difficult, very difficult, of course to understand why and how, but the longer you'll try, the more you might learn and I think it is absolutely worth it!
So, just please don't give up, I'm absolutely sure that each an every one of you can be creative and efficient at playing the game at the same time regardless of how much time you've spent in the game, even though it might seem so difficult now. The more you risk, the more you can gain, just don't give up. I believe in you! 🙂
TL;DR: I got to pro with a dumb deck to prove that you can get there with almost anything and thus encourage people to experiment more and believe in themselves, rather than to just play unchanged variants of highly effective decks they got from somewhere.