We invite you to read this important interview with Molegion, a professional Gwent player, who you could see at tournaments in the Gwent Masters series. Among other things, we are talking about the new Syndycate faction and the over 6 months break in official tournaments (Challenger will not be back until September).
Hi Molegion, first of all I want to congratulate you for correctly guessing the new faction. Over year ago, you suggested it might be “Bandits”. And it ends up being very close to the new Syndicate faction.
Hey, thank you, although to be fair I imagined the Bandit faction a bit differently - I expected it to be focused around Salamandra at first, but Novigrad fits the theme perfectly. My guess was based on the fact that there were little to no bandits in the game before this expansion, so I think it makes sense to add more of them.
What do you think about Syndicate? Is it an OP faction, even after hotfix?
The faction is definitely really strong, but I don't like calling it overpowered. Its power is right where it should be - the faction feels good to play, the bronzes don't feel like fillers that you never want to draw, there are many strategies in Syndicate that you can pull off and successfully win games.
I think that the other factions, except for Skellige, are just not strong enough. Bronzes in Scoia'tael, Northern Realms or Nilfgaard just don't feel good to play, at least most of them. These factions either don't have viable strategies (like NG), or their strategies are really vulnerable and easy to disrupt (like NR). This is where the balance issue lies at the moment, in my opinion. If every faction is brought up to Skellige and Syndicate level, the game will feel much better.
Monsters are somewhere in the middle - they started as a really strong faction in the base set, but in the last 2 expansions they didin't really get anything strong to their set and there are no new strategies for them, so after a bunch of nerfs Monsters also started falling behind. I'm glad that CDPR recognises the issue and is motivated to buff the other factions rather then nerf Syndicate.
This faction got exclusively new type of carryover – coins. Does that make it just from definition one of the strongest factions considering high level competitive gameplay?
The coin carryover is a really minor thing, I don't think this is where strength of the faction lies. I believe it was introduced to make Syndicate a bit less vulnerable to bleeding - the new faction struggles a bit against decks that push them in round 2, so the coin carry over helps with that.
As I said before, strenght in bronzes and multiple strategies that work is what makes Syndicate so good. So yeah, I would say it's not only one of the strongest factions, but THE strongest faction right now.
Dual faction cards are interesting new concept. What already existing card would you like to see being two faction?
I'm a lore maniac so I think Hubert Rejk belongs to Syndicate, on the other hand I'm not sure if I want to see Hubert and Ewald Borsodi in the same deck...
Buff and damage is core of every card game. But managing to balance it is crucial for making game entertaining. Players are reporting that there is too much damage, or even that keeping NR engine alive is impossible. Do you think that balance is maintained?
Sadly I think Gwent is a bit flawed in that - damage is just better than boost, but they are usually evenly costed in the deck builder. Damaging cards are way too efficient for some engine-focused strategies to work. I would like to see less damaging cards in future, and if CDPR decides to print more of them, they should cost more than their boosting equivalent.
On the other hand, if damage is too weak, engine strategies can become too strong - there are cards in the game that generate 3 points when they are answered and 12 when they are not. It's really hard to balance it all in homecoming, where the numbers are so small, but I think CDPR will manage to do it at some point.
Do you think Northern Realms can be fixed only by improving their stats or something bigger around their identity needs to be fixed so their engines would stay alive longer?
NR definitely could use some more strategies than "I hope this engine will survive", but that will come with future expansions I guess. For the engine issue, I think we already have some kind of solution, and it's the Formation keyword. If it was added to more cards, NRs engines would definitely feel better to play.
Topic of RNG lately was outside of radar, mainly because new card effects don’t rely on RNG. Is this problem currently resolved? Or should some RNG cards be changed?
I don't think Gwent has any problem with RNG cards at the moment, but I wish Gascon recieved an ability that his character deserves.
“Gwent is easy to start playing but hard to master” would you agree with this?
Absolutely - Gwent is a simple game to pick up, because after all it's all about having more points than the opponent. However, when it comes to mastering it, I think only few people have trully done it - even people in Pro Rank do a lot of mistakes when it comes to passing, bluffing/not giving away information about your hand, or using certain cards in their decks.
Adaptation to what's going on on the board in Gwent is difficult, but I think that's why I fell in love with this game. After all, CDPR advertised Gwent as a game in which "your skill matters". I wish it mattered more, but that's another topic - I definitely agree that gwent is easy to play and hard to master.
You are a part of team Aretuza, team with a lot of success on pro scene. How does that type of team work? How being in that team helps you be better on pro scene?
Team Aretuza is around 30 people working to be the best in the game, as well as produce high quality content for the community. We gathered the best players in Gwent together, to build decks, play practice matches and prepare for tournaments (well, we used to prepare for tournaments when they took place).
We also have a lot of ambitious, creative and hard working people producing content for our website (by the way, shout out to Kachna who is the dev behind our website, he has put a lot of work in it and did it all for free, Kachna you are awesome). The players help the content creators with making sure that their creation is meeting the facts. Overall, we are a community, we want to do something good for Gwent, as well as we want to be the best players competitively. You can find us on twitter and on discord.
Being in the team definitely helped me with becoming a better player - I made friends who are really good at the game, talked to them a lot about strategies and naturally just became better. The preparation is also really helpful - Gwent2town deserves a shout out for that, as he is the one who puts a lot of work into making sure we are well prepared for the tournaments.
Some people are saying that number of Gwent players in last months increased, some that is decreasing. But those are only opinions, not facts. We don’t get official numbers and Twitch viewer count is not reliable. How you suggest estimating that trend? What is your opinion about popularity of Gwent going in last 6 months?
As you said, we don't have any official statistics, so I don't think there's a point in speculating how many people play the game. I personally like checking how many people are there in pro rank at the end of every season, this gives you some idea about how many commited players are there, but at the same time there are a lot of people who play the game casually and don't get to pro rank. So, only CDPR knows if the game is growing or not.
Today date of next Challenger has been announced (14-15 September). But there is still no date of Gwent Masters series finale or even slightest info about season 2. Gap between challengers will be over 6 months, what do you think about it as a pro player?
This is incredibly disappoiting, putting it lightly. CDPR created a system that rewards you for commitment. Now the same system punishes you for the same commitment - most pro players focus fully on Gwent, and now the same people just don't know if they should seek for different occupation or wait to pusure career in something they are very good at. I'm really sad about it because CDPR was very good at making their official tournaments, the production quality was always really high, the tournaments happened regularly, viewership was very good and the players were treated with a lot of respect.
But it seems like after Homecoming, pros lost their humanity and became merely marketing tools. On the original schedule, World Masters was supposed to happen in January 2019. We are in July the same year and we still have Challenger 5 on the way, before Masters. I find this delay really hard to understand, because the game is in good hands and in a good condition, why doesn't CDPR want to show it to the world now? We also have the longest offseason I've ever seen in any kind of competitive game.
When pro players expressed their concern about the situation on twitter, Paweł Burza said that they need some more time and they will share the details with us. It was over 2 months ago and there's still no update. I would rather hear very bad news than no news at all. This is heartbreaking and even though I'm a really patient person, I think the most reasonable decision is to leave that part of my life behind and move on. But I really want to be wrong.
With last updates main focused was set towards casual players (new faction, new card packs, new boards, upcoming smartphone version of the game), do you think Gwent become 100% casual game?
If Gwent wants to be a commercial success, it has to become casual player friendly, but I don't think any of the additions you mentioned are meant to make only casual experience better - it's just growth of the game. I'm glad the game is growing under Jasons Slama leadership, all the recent changes are good for Gwent
You are strongly connected to competitive scene of Gwent, are pro players feeling that season 2 of Gwent Masters will happen?
I can't speak for everyone, but I think most people are cautiously optimistic. I personally was like that too for the past few months, but the inner realist in me tells me to expect nothing.
What in your opinion are top 3 strongest and top 3 weakest points in current Gwent?
1. Game is still very rewarding towards better players - better player will win most of the games.
2. It is very generous, the progression system is amazing
3. It has by far the best art on the market.
1. The marketing for the game is really poor and even though the game is good, CDPR doesn't utilize modern media like Twitch or big gaming conventions to promote their product.
2. Binary cards like artifact removal.
3. NG and NR faction identity.
What wish you see in upcoming Gwent updates or general from Gwent?
I would like to see a best of 3 queue, like in MTG - you can queue for that in pro rank, you don't know your opponents deck in the first match, but in the next ones you know what's there, I think Gwent is the best when both players know each other decklists so that would be a good compromise. I would also like to see a proper draft mode that uses the provision system and of course a tournament circuit.
Thank you for your time, and RNG be ever in your favor!
Thank you :)
Questions for this interview prepared KissAndRun.