The Witcher 3 released over a year ago, I still haven’t completed it. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the main contributing factors to my inability to actually progress the story is Gwent, the card game that every bar man, every merchant, pretty much everyone from Skellige to Crookback Bog wants to play! I just can’t say no to them. As soon as that little dialogue box popped up “How about a game of cards” I was sold, I’m in, I must win because you might have a card I don’t and I want it more than saving Ciri – let’s be honest, she can more than handle herself anyway…
From the moment I played Gwent I wanted it to either be a real life game, a standalone game or both. So I was extremely happy when I heard that it would be getting its own release.
The aim of Gwent is to beat your opponent’s score in a best of 3 rounds card game. You build a deck of cards – with either a default option, or create your own, then 10 cards are dealt from that deck, you then have to outscore or out smart you opponent to win 2 rounds.
You have a melee or close quarters attack row, a ranged attack row and a siege attack row that you can play cards in. Certain cards will be specific for these rows on the board, whilst some can be applied across any of them or all of them and each have their own abilities and combat scores.
As it stands there are four factions you can choose from, Northern Realms, Skellige, Monsters and Scoia’tael. The Nilfgaardian deck is still being worked on – I’m guessing it’s down to balancing. Each faction has a leader card with special abilities that you can use once during a match and they all have their own specific card types that can use to build up your deck. There are also neutral cards that can be placed in to any deck such as weather effect cards.
The game is in Beta right now and is meant to stay in Beta for quite a while, I think until around April 2017, which is pretty long for a Beta. The thing is I actually think it’s in pretty good shape right now, I’ve not encountered any serious issues, the game feels fairly well balanced and there are a lot of cards and combinations to play around with.
You can buy kegs, which is basically a pack of cards that gives you 4 random cards and then you get to choose 1 card from 3 that will be of a higher level or rarity, these kegs can also be earned as random rewards or bought with in game currency. I was worried that this might make the game feel a little pay to win, but as of right now I think it’s ok. Sure I’ve been demolished in some games, but I’ve also won my fair share and I think with the cards you start with – once you’re used to them and have some good strategies, you can build a very competitive deck.
The main differences between Gwent in The Witcher 3 and Gwent now mostly seem cosmetic. The board has had a bit of an overhaul in terms of how it looks and all of the cards have had a fresh lick or art work applied to them. Overall I really like the new style and how everything looks and the addition of some small animations for cards really adds a nice little extra layer of detail to the game. There have obviously been new cards added and others have had their power tweaked slightly, but as I’ve not unlocked everything it’s hard to really comment on those.
Gwent now feels a lot more competitive, this is probably down to, one, it now being multiplayer and, well real people seem a lot more tactical than AI and, two, the balancing of cards. After a while in The Witcher 3 you could build a deck that was basically unbeatable. Now I feel like there is a lot more strategy involved and a lot of trying to figure out what your opponent is going to do. This for me makes Gwent ever more engaging and keeps me wanting to play even more. The competitive element heightens the overall experience of Gwent and makes it supremely re-playable, and the option of being able to collect and craft new cards to customise decks to your hearts content – the replay-ability is only increased.
I loved Gwent when it was only a little mini game and now I love it even more. I can’t wait to see where the game goes and see myself fully sinking a lot of time in to it.
You can still register for the beta and codes are still being sent out, so don’t dispare if you haven’t had one yet!