I am sure most of you have at least heard of The Witcher in some way shape or form, be it the wildly popular video game developed by CD Projekt RED or possibly Andrzej Sapkowski‘s original book series. The fantastic world and characters have gone on to inspire not just a video game series and multiple tabletop and card games, but soon a digital card game called Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. For those unfamiliar with The Witcher, the digital card game may not be what you think. However, for those of you who know exactly what Gwent is, you are in for a real treat.
While loosely inspired by a game called Barrel that was only sparsely mentioned in the books, Gwent’s first real appearance was in The Witcher III video game. The demand for the game as a standalone grew until it was later published as a physical tabletop card game. Even this did not satiate fans, so they began working on a digital version that I have had the pleasure of playing almost every day I can.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game plays much like the tabletop and mini game versions, but has been refined to become a gorgeous, slick, standalone product, and it’s still only in its closed beta state. Two players go head to head in a best two-of-three match where they take turns playing a single card from their hand into one of three rows on their side of the battlefield. While you are playing powerful warriors and vicious monster, unlike most card game in this genre, you are not attacking or defending, nor do you have health pool to lose or chip away at. Instead, each round of a match represents a single battle in a greater war and you are trying to have the greatest strength at the end of each battle to win it. This means, you may have to lose a battle to win the war.
What make’s Gwent: The Witcher Card Game great, especially compared to earlier iterations? Well, for starters, you can play against other players. This make a huge difference from the mini game, in which you only ever play against non-player characters. Now that you can play with friends and any number of people online, the challenge and experience has grown greater. But due to this, the game has also undergone a lot of rebalancing. An example of this is the Geralt of Rivia card; when played in the mini game, it generally meant you were going to win. But considering now that two players want to have a fair experience, Geralt’s power level has been adjusted. Interestingly though, they have taken powerful cards like this and separated them into different cards. Again, using Geralt as an example, there is a basic Geralt card that simply grants 12 strength to your side of the battle when played, but another card called Geralt: Igni that has less strength, but has a special effect that destroys opposing cards when played.
With competitive play, players are now limited in the way they construct their deck. Again, in the mini game players were encouraged to find and use the most powerful cards, but depending on your views of non-player characters, no one was getting hurt by the steamroller of power. Players are now limited to having only four Gold cards, six Silver, and any amount of Bronze in their deck, though you cannot have more than 40 cards, or less than 25 in a deck at one time.
Like other digital card games, you progress as you win games, and with each victory you are rewarded with resources that allow you to attain more cards. Gwent utilizes a dual currency system similar to Hearthstone’s; Ore can be spent to purchase additional packs of cards and Scraps can be used to craft any card you like. Both resources are generated by playing and winning matches, but card packs can also be purchased outright with real world currency.
While it shares many of the same strategic properties of other card games, it feels a lot more cerebral, like chess or any other highly strategic game. That said, it’s not all that complicated, which makes it far more accessible. If you are at all a fan of the Gwent mini or tabletop game, you really should sign up for the closed beta, or at least give the game a try when it comes out. If you are a fan of games like Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering, Yugioh, and any of the countless competitive card game, you really should check it out.
All Images Credited to: CD Projekt RED