Gwent, the popular mini-game within The Witcher 3, is now its own stand-alone title. Although it's still in its developmental stages, this game has a lot of meat to it.Players familiar with The WItcher series will get a lot of enjoyment from the flavor of the cards, and CCG gamers will love the cleverness of the game's mechanics. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is currently in Beta, but you can register for game codes here.
Gwent will be a different learning experience for you depending on which popular card game you're familiar with. I'm an avid Magic:The Gathering player, so I had some issue getting used to the "put your card down and your turn is over" cycle. The biggest stand-out that any CCG player will recognize is the lack of a battle phase. Just because you played on The Witcher doesn't mean you'll be a pro either, as there have been some changes to gameplay from the main title, like the fact that this time around, you get to draw cards in between rounds.
For those that haven't tried Gwent out in the main game, you start out with ten cards, and each turn you play a card that either gives your side of the board power or takes power away from your opponent. You do this until one side concedes or both players are out of cards. The player with the most power on board at the end of a round wins. In between rounds, you draw cards; 2 cards in round 2, and 1 card in round 3. That's where the beautiful strategy of Gwent comes into play; it's not about just throwing down powerhouses here, but more about maintaining composure and control of the board. You can either play mind games by letting your opponent win a round (wasting their cards) and then demolish them the next 2 rounds, or try to use all of your cards so they use all of theirs, leaving the game up to the luck of the draw.
One of the most impressive things about Gwent is the variety of cards and strategies that are present. Monster decks aim for power in numbers, with units like spiders and wolves that call out all copies of themselves from your deck when you play them. These cards are breedable, which means that certain spells will create copies of them. Combine this with spells that power up an entire row or all copies of a unit, and you're a force to be reckoned with. The Nilfgaardian Empire makes the most out of gold units (units that are immune to most effects, and are usually more powerful), giving them power bonuses and using spells that make certain units turn from bronze to gold. The Northern Realms play on revenge, increasing in power if an opponent chooses to lower your units' power. The Scoia'tael are the mages of the game, drawing out specific spells from your deck at the perfect moment. Each faction has a variety of leader cards that can be played at any time, but only once per match.
At the end of each match, each player receives a reward (usually). The winner will receive anywhere between 15-50 ore, the premium currency used to buy cards, and 100 ore when they reach a certain number of wins. You can also tell your opponent "GG", and the game will gift them either 5 ore or 5 scraps, which are used to create your own cards instead of buying kegs.
The fact that Gwent is still in beta is obvious. There's no clear way to customize your player card, and no way to buy card kegs with real money on console. PC players may buy the kegs, and will receive as many kegs as they bought when the final game releases, wiping all of your progress. Card kegs are actually pretty nifty. You open one and immediately get 4 cards that range from common to rare, and then choose between 3 more cards that are either rare, epic, or legendary, ensuring you'll never have a rare card you can't find some use for.
The graphics in Gwent are smooth and satisfying. Moving in between cards, the board, and the graveyards is never cumbersome. The way the card you're currently highlighting is shown on the side of the screen eliminates the need to zoom in and take your eyes off of what your opponent is doing, which is really nice.
The sound effects are what will really make you fall in love with the game. The cards are obviously taken from The Witcher series, and the sounds reflect that. Putting down a card delivers a sound byte from the game. Soldiers say something about the king, monsters roar, and Geralt complains about having to be a hero. The only fault in this is that hearing the cards drop really makes me want to play Wild Hunt.
Gwent:The Witcher Card Game is a CCG you can easily fall in love with, especially knowing that there's more to come as the game evolves and updates. This is a game to look out for, as it's giving games like Magic Duels some competition. It's been over 10,000 hours since The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt released, meaning you should be pretty close to having played all of its content if you started on day one. So, when you finish, you can hop right into Gwent!
|+ Great CCG even for non-Witcher fans||– Beta is bare, leaves us hungry for the full version|
|+ Excellent mix of strategy and intensity||– Sound effects just leave you yearning for The Witcher 3|
|+ Free to play, not pay to win|