As a competitive card game, Gwent has a community of players that’s both completely devoted and perpetually grumpy. The latest target of that energy happens to be a card called Imlerith: Sabbath, a gold monster whose power was best demonstrated when it almost single-handedly won a recent match.
Jan “SuperJJ” Janßen, a pro Hearthstone player for Complexity who also plays Gwent, was streaming yesterday when he decided to do something bonkers: passing on the final round of a match with nine cards still to play. Why did he effectively fold his hand and give his opponent a giant advantage? Two words: Imlerith: Sabbath. He played regular version of it on the last round and then proceeded to buff it by 12 points with Parasite. At 13 strength (it had already taken some damage) and six armor, it looked unstoppable. As a result, SuperJJ passed, banking on the idea that his opponent wouldn’t have anything powerful enough to counter it, an assumption that proved true.
The following clip has been making the rounds on the game’s subreddit.
Part of the game’s most recent batch of new cards, Imlerith is a five strength monster that duels other cards and heals itself by two and gains two armor if it survives. Dueling is one of the game’s newer mechanics, in which two cards deal damage to one another equal to their strength. It can be a good way to retain board control since opponents’ cards placed after the dueling one need to be more powerful in order to survive, but it’s also extremely susceptible to removal since it starts out at such low health and has to duel every new card that comes down after him.
Whether this advantage and disadvantage are balanced remains very much in dispute by the game’s players. Some have written in-depth analyses of why they think Imlerith is one of Gwent’s best new cards, exemplifying a new layer of interactivity brought to the game with the latest new set of cards. Since Imlerith isn’t unstoppable right out of the gate, he requires players to think creatively about how to deploy and combo him with other cards. Others have listed their frustrations with how easily the card can get out of hand when strengthened with another spell or given resilience so it can hang around and wreak havoc for a second round.
Those who played The Witcher 3 might remember Imlerith as the Wild Hunt lieutenant who serves as one of the game’s most difficult boss battles on a mountain in Southern Valen (I spent an hour trying to beat it on the Death March difficulty). It’s understandable why he would be so powerful in Gwent then, even if it might make sense to at least tweak him, like making him slightly harder to buff while still in a player’s hand. No one wants to go up against an opponent in ranked or arena and be confronted with a 13 strength, six armor card that’s ready to duel all of theirs into oblivion, but at the very least it’s still interesting to see how Imlerith is pushing the boundaries of what players and the game’s designers think Gwent should be.