This guide was put together by Thekeyer, Hippo, Wusubi, DevilDriven and Nimraphel. The goal is to provide the Gwent newcomers with cheap decks. Each deck was built with a budget of around 1000 scraps, showing examples of how our Crafting Guide can be used to improve the starting decks. If you want to see the best and the most expensive decks that are popular on the pro ladder, check out our Meta Report.
While we try to utilize the starting leaders, there are instances where we recommend unlocking a different leader in the reward book. The best example is unlocking Gernichora over sticking with Eredin. The Monsters starter deck has Griffins, which is where Gerni's leader ability comes in handy, as it makes Griffin a very reliable card. We strongly recommend you adhere to these leader suggestions, as they can significantly improve your experience as a new player.
If you own Thronebreaker, we also included Thronebreaker versions of budget decks for Northern Realms and Scoia'tael, as their Thronebreaker cards are strong and very easy to include in a budget deck. Moreover, Skellige and Nilfgaard both have a good starting leader and thus don't require an extra investment of reward points to unlock a more suitable leader.
In each spoiler, you will find the faction's budget deck, its crafting cost and the upgrades we made to each starter deck, along with our reasoning behind them. If you have any questions, feel free to join our Discord server.
The recent change to Foltest made his ability extremely non-budget friendly. To utilize his Zeal, one needs to play only Northern Realms units with Order. This is acceptable if you can afford the Blue Stripes package or expensive dueling legendaries. Unfortunately, both are out of the reach of a starting player's budget. As such, we decided to advise unlocking Meve, a leader that is powerful, fun to play and offers wonderful synergies with the starter deck.
Crafting cost: 1120 scraps
Inclusions: Portal, Carlo Varese, Botchling, Vissegerd, Nathaniel Pastodi,
2x Dun Banner and 2x Kaedweni Sergeant
Meve's ability and Sergeants support the decks game plan by enabling cards like Anna Strenger, Reinforced Trebuchet and Tridam Infantry. We also threw in some epic cards that benefit from boosting. Nathaniel Pastodi creates a lot of pressure, especially when placed next to Anna or Drummer. Vissegerd is a massive finisher.
Botchling is a versatile card that can be transformed into Lubberkin, offering nice synergy with the whole deck. Portal is the powerhouse inclusion, allowing you to pull Tridam or Sergeant for a scary tempo play. Carlo Varese always finds a target. We included Dun Banners, because Meve turns them into a potent thinning tool.
Luckily for Meve, the Northern Realms cards you get for free if you own Thronebreaker make her deck even better. It's very easy to keep Black Rayla boosted and she can win the round on her own if left unanswered. Reynard Odo will boost each unit you play, offering great synergy with Meve and units that have the Inspired tag. You can easily accomodate both cards by cutting Geralt and Lacerate, see the import link below.
While the Scoia'tael starter deck is geared more towards Filavandrel, we still suggest unlocking Brouver. His ability can activate and/or protect your engines, but it can be used offensively too, granting you more value with Lacerate. Brouver can also move (and thus disable) any row-locked enemy engine.
Crafting cost: 1120 scraps
Inclusions: Carlo Varese, Dennis Cranmer, Morenn, Treant Boar,
2x Hawker Smuggler and 2x Vrihedd Brigade
Carlo Varese is a powerful removal option and most importantly a Neutral card, making him an ideal addition to budget decks. Dennis Cranmer can boost the entire Ranged row in a longer round, or just activate your Mahakam Defenders. Morenn offers you another lock, with the flexibility of being played for damage.
Treant Boar is a sturdy engine that can be moved around with Vrihedd Dragoons and Brouver's ability for additional damage. Vrihedd Brigades fulfill a similar role, but are usually used as a finisher. Hawker Smugglers compensate for the lack of Filavandrel's leader ability. They generate carry-over, which is great with Sheldon.
Barnabas Beckenbauer can provide you with massive value if you distribute a sufficient amount of the required card categories. We started by adding Dryad Rangers and Fledglings to have more Dryads alongside of Morenn. Weeping Willow offers the Harmony tag and also synergizes with Rangers, making the Poison package reliable. Lastly, Half-Elf Hunters wrap up the Harmony package, creating more Elven bodies to boost.
Gabor Zigrin is an amazing card and can either be played for carry-over between rounds or as an Immune engine which boosts itself each time you play a Dwarf. The deck does play a few Dwarves and both options are functional, depending on the circumstances of the match. Click on the import link below to see the more Harmony-oriented version of the deck which includes both Thronebreaker cards.
Due to the inclusion of 2x Griffin in the starting deck, Gernichora is the leader you should try to unlock. Her ability, Gernichora's Fruit, offers the ideal synergy with Griffin. Furthermore, it supports the overall playstyle of the faction, which is trying to win Round 1 and then bleeding your opponent in Round 2. This deck packs a decent amount of Thrive units, removal and big finishers, allowing you to easily execute the game plan.
Crafting cost: 1150 scraps
Inclusions: Carlo Varese, Katakan, Protofleder, Golyat, Pugo Boom-Breaker,
Ice Giant, Wyvern, Drowner and 2x Nekker Warrior
Carlo Varese offers the crucial removal and tempo, as this deck cares a lot about winning Round 1. Since you often have the highest unit on the board, Protofleder is a no-brainer. Not only does it kill engines, it also boosts itself to 7, procing your Thrive units. Katakan works very well in a Thrive deck, as it procs Thrive units with lower power, while getting Thrived itself by the giants.
Golyat and Pugo are added for Ozzrel consistency. Both have obvious drawbacks, which can however be mitigated. Pugo is played after Fruit as your opener, while Golyat is trickier, which is why you should try to play him very late into the round. Ice Giant allows you to keep 2x Ghoul, as with 2x Griffin and Elder Bear you have enough targets to consume. Wyvern and Drowner enhance the Thrive-oriented Round 1 power of the deck, while also acting as removal.
Crach an Craite is a decent starting leader and you can definitely stick with him for a while. His leader ability offers extra reach with any removal, but can also enable the Bloodthirst condition of strong units like Svanrige Tuirseach.
Crafting cost: 1000 scraps
Inclusions: Carlo Varese, Sigrdrifa's Rite, Harald Houndsnout, Jutta an Dimun,
2x Tuirseach Veteran, 2x Svalblod Priest and 2x Heymaey Protector
As usual, Carlo is included as a cheap and potent removal option. Jutta is a great proactive card that can play for 12 points. You can achieve this by boosting one of your units to 13 power with Thunderbolts or Tactical Advantage. She can also be revived by Sigrdrifa's Rite in later rounds. Tuirseach Veterans serve as secondary Sigrdrifa targets, while presenting the perfect punching bag for Svalblod Priests.
The self-wounding engine package of Svalblod Priest and Heymey Protector can be found in any Skellige deck. Priest often reaches 13 points, which allows you to play Jutta for 12. Protector should be placed next to a Longship or any unit that's getting damaged by the Priest. Harald Houndsnout is another staple for Skellige, due to offering so many synergies. His skulls serve as Priest fodder and his Order ability often helps you with healing Veterans by dropping them down to 2 health.
Emhyr has a very strong leader ability, but in the starter deck, there aren't too many cards that are worth replaying. This budget version builds on the Soldier package by including Daerlan Soldiers. You flood the board with Soldiers and then use Emhyr to replay Vrygheff or Vreemde.
Crafting cost: 1160 scraps
Inclusions: Portal, Roach, Vrygheff, Assire, Vreemde and 2x Daerlan Soldier
The big upside of Portal is playing two engines in one turn, making it difficult for your opponent to answer both. With only two targets in the deck, you should be careful and avoid risky mulligans. Roach works very well with Assire, offering you extra tempo and thinning in Round 1 and a strong proactive play in later rounds. The soldier package is your bread and butter. Vrygheff can spawn more copies of Daerlan Soldiers or Slave Infantry, while Vreemde rewards you for swarming and boosts all copies of a Soldier. He can also be used to protect Nauzicaa Sergeants.