When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was released in May 2015, a new bar for immersive RPG storytelling was set. Yet perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the success of its mini-game Gwent; a Hearthstone-esque card game which saw main character Geralt travelling across the Continent not only in search of his adopted daughter Ciri, but in the pursuit of collectible cards; fighting inkeepers, shop owners and Barons alike in a rather subdued experience, in stark contrast to his day job of severing the limbs of dangerous Griffins and Cockatrices.
In fact, the game was so successful that CD PROJEKT RED announced they were creating a stand-alone expansion: Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. In October 2016 the Closed Beta began, but with the conspicuous absence of Nilfgaard. One of the four original factions included in the base game, the deck specialised in characters of cunning and deceit, with powerful ranged units and highly useful spies to bolster their team; in reality, it was probably the strongest of the four. In its place sat Skellige, originally introduced in the Blood and Wine expansion.
The game expands upon the rather simple and easily understandable rules first established in The Witcher 3, introducing new cards and mechanics exclusive to the stand-alone release. Now, CD PROJEKT RED has announced that Nilfgaard will finally be arriving on February 6th, along with additional cards for the pre-existing factions, and neutral ones that may be used with any deck of the players' choice. It remains to be seen whether the deck will be as powerful as it was in The Witcher 3, or if its strength has been toned down; though CDPR has promised a new play style and previously unseen game mechanics.
"Nilfgaard introduces a playstyle focused on maintaining control over the battlefield. The faction equips players with a set of new gameplay mechanics such as revealing cards in the opponent’s hand, controlling the order of cards in player decks, and trickery based on the use of disloyal units."
Ahead of its release, CD PROJEKT RED will be streaming a sneak preview of the update on their Twitch channel, on February 1st at 12PM PST. This will give eager gamers a sneak peek of what's to come just five days later.
Gwent currently remains in Closed Beta with online multiplayer mode only, but those interested can still register for free on the game's official website. The beta is available for either PC or Xbox One. Sadly, there is no news yet of a PS4 version, or any indications of when the game will be fully released; but the introduction of Nilfgaard is certainly one step closer to that time, and this update should provide fans with enough content to keep them satisfied for at least a few months.