ChazChaz Posts: 385Administrator
edited February 20 in Games
Around a year ago I wrote what, if I were a journalist, could be construed as a corrupt advertising piece on Duelyst. Thankfully I'm not, I'm just a fan, and despite not having played for a few months, every bit of gushing I expressed over that amazing game still stands. However this year another CCG has caught my eye, so I thought I'd give it a similar treatment. That game, currently undergoing it's closed beta, is Gwent.

Now this game probably requires a lot less introduction than Duelyst did. Not only is it developed and produced by a company that's rapidly becoming a European powerhouse in the industry, CD Projekt Red, but the game also debuted in their first, and highly acclaimed AAA effort, The Witcher 3. Like Final Fantasy XVIII's card game, Triple Triad, Gwent emerged as a minigame within the main game, a distraction from the usual hacky-slashy-questy stuff. I'd not played The Witcher 3, but I heard Gwent was good, though I remained rather cynical. For one, folk seemed to enjoy Triple Triad, but as a game on its own it's as fun as Tic-Tac-Toe. Secondly, since Hearthstone, Gwent seemed to fall in the "let's also make a cash grab CCG out of our IP, it prints money" line that Elder Scrolls Legends also seems to follow. I was wrong though, Gwent is a fantastic game.

One criticism I have of many CCGs out there is that a lot, A LOT, follow a very recognisable MTG formula. That is two players create or use a resource pool to play monsters and spells from their hand to ultimately attack the other player until they're dead. Everything you do ultimately affects the opposing player. Gwent is very different. Gwent takes cues from German style board games where much of the game is using your card pool to create a board for your own benefit. It's not truly German style, you do affect the opposing player, but there's a lot more planning involved than many other CCGs.

See I'll back up, as Gwent is a game that requires some actual explanation. A Gwent match is fought in three rounds, or rather a best of three. Out of your 25 card deck you draw 15 cards in the first round, 2 in the second round, and only 1 in the third and final round. These cards are your only resource and you need to use them wisely, because each player takes turns to play a single card each to increase their power. The player with the most power at the end of the round wins. The kicker? Any player can "pass" during their turn. This then commits them to what they have on the board for the round and can force the opposing player to spend more of their limited resources to take the round. If they do they'll often be one or two cards down for the consecutive rounds. Alternatively, if you feel the opposing player has used all their best cards and over-committed, you can pass and use your best cards to take the next round, or maybe try and delay him by forcing him to commit more, but then if he passes you might now be a card down and not have the round, forcing you to commit even more and oh no, you've over-committed as the opponent saw through your bluff and aaaaaagh...

This is Gwent in a nutshell. At it's heart it combines strategy, planning, forethought, and bluffing skills, alongside the decision making and deck building skills that many other digital card games. See my current deck I'm using frequently lets the opponent take round one while I prep my cards for rounds two and three. To do that however I still need to maintain the illusion of wanting to take the round in case the opponent just passes. It's a balancing act and essentially a performance on my part where I can only express my intent through the cards I play. And I love this.

Deck building is of course, very important. Unlike other games there's really no such thing as a "zoo" deck (a deck built of somewhat random monsters in the hopes of just flooding the board). You have to have a plan and goal from the beginning whether you're building straight power, or attempting to control your enemy. The cards are so evocative of the game's theme too. See you're essentially building an army for a battle, so what's to stop you from loading up on the best guys? Well cards fall into 3 categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The best are obviously Gold and Silver, but you're limited to one copy per deck and a limited amount overall. The Gold and Silver cards frequently represent named individuals like Geralt or Eredin, but the bulk of your army are essentially grunts like Mahakam Guards or Blue Stripes Commandos. They're units rather than people. So while the game might be abstract, it still feels very real.

And the cards themselves are gorgeous...

And you have to see the premium animated cards to be believed. I've honestly yet to see a card game, neither digital nor physical, with cards as pretty as these.

Due to it's emphasis on misdirection, Gwent does tend to require more knowledge of the various cards to play well. You need to know what your opponent could have in store to make an informed judgement on when to pass or what to play. Thankfully, Gwent has a card crafting system, and the resources required to craft cards come along a lot easier than in many CCGs I've known. This means that gradually you'll be spending a lot more time in the card database, planning combos, and crafting the cards you need to pull them off. This is subtly a lot more valuable to learning the game than waiting for lucky pulls in random packs.

My biggest criticism of the game is the lack of randomness. There's very little of it and CDPR seem to be making the game less random with each patch. This might sound like a good thing, but it does mean that the game can become quite stale. Once you've created a consistent deck, you generally play that deck in the same way each time, and with a 25 card minimum deck and very little surprises, consistency relatively easy to accomplish.

Mind you, you can always play another faction or leader if you get bored with your current deck. They all play very differently and with less neutral minions than other games they maintain more individual personality. Indeed, most neutral cards come in the form of spells, which is the opposite to games like Duelyst or Hearthstone.

Balancing has been a bit erratic too. Cards frequently fluctuate between must-haves to absolute garbage. My current deck archetype was powerful, then complete trash, and now the current patch has made it insane. CDPR seem to be very gung-ho with balance changes, something that might change in later stages of beta and release.

All in all Gwent has a completely different philosophy to many digital card games. The emphasis is less on attacking your opponent, in favour of a more strategic game of planning, misdirection, and prediction. Overall this creates a very unique experience in the digital realm of card games, one that's both thought provoking and rewarding. If you're at all interested in CCGs, Gwent is most definitely worth checking out.

I'll leave you now with a quote from Harald the Cripple.

"Up an' at 'em ya lazy mingers. Yeh'll sleep when yer dead!"

Edit: Why the fuck was the forum posting drafts for? Silly forums.
Post edited by Chaz on


  • UntaxableUntaxable Posts: 244Member
    Can I rescind my statement that Chaz passes my Turing test? Quite a sophisticated spambot though.
    Post will probably be edited by Untaxable soon
  • nujumkeynujumkey Posts: 296Member
    I never played the card game in withcer 3, cause i dont own the witcher 3 game. When Gwent comes out of closed beta, I'll definately look into it
    Twitter is @nujumkey
    Steam is Nujumkey
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