The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has been heralded as one of the best games ever by quite a few people. The story alone is awesome, the gameplay fantastic and the graphics are breathtaking. But one of the game’s mini games caused quite a stir in the community. I, of course, am talking about Gwent.
Not exactly the most attractive name but the mini game itself is certainly something praise worthy. So praise worthy in fact that they went and made it into a standalone card game.
Like any card game you build a deck of cards to face off against your opponents. However this one isn’t focused so much on destroying your opponent’s cards. The field of play is split into 3 rows; Melee, Ranged and Siege. Cards played on each row contribute to a combat score for your side. The one with the highest total at the end of the round, wins that round. In order to win the match you have to win two rounds.
At the start of the match you draw a hand of cards, re-drawing up to 3. The start of round 1 you draw 3 cards, then 2 and finally 1. You do not draw more cards between turns and the field is cleared between rounds, unless you have cards that get to stay. You get to play one card per turn, so choose wisely. Due to the nature of playing cards and not drawing them, the game also becomes one of attrition.
This all told, creates a very unique and strategically challenging card game. Combos that secure the round are great but sequences that secure the next round are spectacular. Playing cards that allow others to persist into the next round can make or break a match. For example, in the short time I played (due to the closed beta access ending), I played someone who had some mindblowing cards.
Their opening combo scored them 40 points. Formidable on its own. The second turn gained them another 100 points. Third turn and this player had 238 points. Fourth turn got the player a couple of cards that survived into the next round. I had no way to stop them, what with my basic starter cards and a few from the starting kegs (card packs). Such a play blew my mind. Not only did this person have these cards this early into the closed beta, but they knew how to use them.
Gotta bear in mind though that anyone who played the mini game version in The Wild Hunt will obviously have an advantage. I mentioned earlier that attrition is a viable tactic to win. You see control decks in Hearthstone that rely upon such things, I have no doubt the same will arise in Gwent. I managed to luckily (for it was definitely not skill) beat a player with such a tactic. We took a round a piece in the first two rounds, down to just 2 cards each in hand and having both used our leader skills. I held 2 magic cards in hand, neither useful for boosting my score. I prayed to draw something useful, having played Geralt earlier, my best hope was a 6 point mage.
I drew the mage, my opponent drew another spell. I won by luck and luck alone. Moments like that when it comes down to wire like that are what makes this game special.
There are strategies upon strategies and layers upon layers. Each faction of deck has different styles of play. Each leader of the faction has different skills, enabling different combos, different strategies. This preview may not give the best overview of the game but it’s certainly one to watch for! If you enjoy tactical card games with in-depth strategy mechanics then Gwent is definitely the game for you!