Pajabol · @Pajabol19

9th May 2022 from TwitLonger

Aerondight and it's effect on the current meta

Seeing aerondight didn't get any changes and people's comments about it I decided to explain a bit more deeply on why I think the card is a problem:

First of all, let's evaluate briefly how good the card actually is. If you include it in a random deck it's probably not gonna do too well as the card requires you to play a lot of tempo in order to keep being ahead of your opponent, but assuming those conditions have been met then depending on the situation the card can very easily play for around 9-12 points in round 2 and for around 12-17 or even higher in niche situations in round 3. Winning round 1 or tempopassing on 7 cards makes it play for even more points as essentially you get ticks on it without actually playing cards. An echo card that plays for this value consistently is obviously pretty insane, especially considering it is also a removal card which is always worth a few additional points answering a potential engine card from opponent's side. People have seen the potential of this card and started to build decks around it mostly by including cards like Roach and Knickers to get additional tempo round 1 that helps in staying ahead of opponent's score (especially on red coin where it helps to tackle the difference in points created by the tactical advantage). Most of decks including Aerondight also play Golden Nekker as it's a great tool to quickly vomit a large amount of points in order to create a big point gap and get the sword to tick even more. Now most people would say that the golden nekker decks are based on golden nekker and that golden nekker himself is the biggest problem, but i kinda disagree with that statement. I don't think golden nekker is a problem on its own and i don't think these decks would be nearly as good without aerondight. The main reason people play it so much is because the card already fits nicely with Roach and Knickers and some of the other 9p cards that recently received a buff or have been recently printed like Ring of Favor, Maraal, Ornate Censer etc. are also a great inclusion. The only exception is Scoia'tael which has very good tempo options with Simlas, Munro and Zoltan: Warrior so it doesn't really need to play Golden Nekker.

So if most people play Aerondight and most people play Roach and Knickers, we get to the problem with the coin discrepancy. As both players have access to huge tempo options, the additional points gained from the tactical advantage and also quite often additional points gained from having first say and establishing engines first provides a big advantage for the blue coin player in getting his sword value. Let's say the opponent passes as early as possible on 7 cards, that's still already 5 points gained on the sword which for an echo card is huge. Playing a card like Ciri: Nova as the 4th play in round 1 can also be a way to either extend round 1 by forcing opponent to answer it or get a huge advantage going into round 2 when then one can proceed to bleed even further gaining more and more points on Aerondight. Forcing people to pass early is also a problem as a lot of decks gain an advantage from going first in round 2 and giving them a long round 2 can prove to be problematic.

Now that I described how the card works and how it influences the coin balance i want to get to my main point and describe how it affected the meta in general and also how it massively changed the way to play the game. The first issue is the diversity of the meta. Currently if we look at what people are playing competitively, two factions: NG and MO only play golden nekker decks. Most SK decks also play nekker but thankfully selfwound is still a very relevant option. SY is split in half between nekker and devotion decks. ST plays mostly different versions of aerondight decks with dwarf tempo package, some people still play elves. NR is the only faction that doesn't use aerondight as priestesses proved to be even better and kind of dominated the current meta. That means that 5 out of 6 factions use Aerondight in their decks and usually include similar neutral cards like Roach, Knickers, Ciri: Nova and Golden Nekker. This leads to another problem. Since most of the meta resolves around decks using Aerondight it completely changed the main way of playing the game. Gwent was usually based on making good trades, trying to force certain win conditions from your opponent and having good macromanagement while maximizing the amount of points. That meant that players had to think carefully about which resources to spend round 1 in order to get round control or whether they just want to preserve their stuff for other rounds. Nowadays players are incentivized to just play as much tempo as possible playing their golds in round 1 in order to keep staying ahead of their opponent and maximize their Aerondight value while minimizing the value from opponent's side. In practice it means that people are blindly committing their best cards round 1 slamming their golds and later getting rewarded for it by playing aerondight for huge value twice. Now that wouldn't be a problem on its own normally, we have had a lot of tempo decks like that in the past such as Lippy or Relicts for example, but the main issue is that since most factions play basically the same deck, it creates a situation where most games come down to who gets blue coin and who draws better tempo options round 1 to get better aerondight value. Obviously there is still some room to outplay the opponent maximizing value from other cards, but the difference in points created by this whole dynamic has way too big of an impact on the result of the game and that's why i think aerondight is such a problematic card right now. In this case a provision nerf would already be a huge change, not only slightly nerfing the card itself, but also disallowing it from getting played in Golden Nekker decks which would force players to look for other ways to get good value from it.

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