Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Review

Born as a game inside a game, Gwent had replaced the iconic dice poker in the third installment of the saga of The Witcher. Simple to understand, but endowed with enough depth to captivate the attention of players in the long run, the possibility of a full-fledged video game adaptation has most likely passed by the heads of many players when The Witcher 3 released. While Hearthstone has popularized the genre with a large audience, CD Projekt RED finally decided to join the competition with a stand-alone version of the Gwent, named Gwent : The Witcher Card Game. With the Beta of Gwent now live, I was finally able to give this title a try!



Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is not just a lazy adaptation of the card game from The Witcher 3 universe. Behind the veil of a seemingly secondary project, CD Projekt RED indicates that it has implemented the same quality requirement applied to their other projects, the very quality that has helped build their fame over the years. Competitive online mode, skirmishes, card collection, custom build decks, all the classics of the genre are here, accompanied by a big cherry on the cake, which takes the form of a single player campaign mode where each scenario intends to embark the players in an adventure of more than ten hours of play! Even better, completing these maps rewards players with the usual in-game currency and card packs (here known as kegs) that are essential for players to build advanced and more specialized decks.
 
The basic rules remain, for the most part, unchanged in Gwent. At the beginning of each turn, player are invited to redraw three cards from their starting hand if they do not suit them, or if they want an extra chance to draw a specific card. Once that is done, the players can use a single card from their hand during each of their turns, deciding to play a unit card in either of the three rows available (Close Combad, Long Range and Siege), or even playing a special (spell?) card. One thing that will confuse many fans of the genre is the fact that the units placed on the board will not be able to attack the enemies directly. 
 
Certain units have effects that allow them to damage those of the opponent, or even increase the power of their own allies, but other than that they remain rather inactive on the board. Moreover, not counting special effects, players will only draw new cards at the start of a round rather than at the start of every turn. For those of you that are not familiar with Gwent, the main purpose of the game is not to deplete the health of your opponent, but rather to have the Power of the units they have on the board exceed that of the opponent. For example, if you end a round with three units that each have 9 power (for a total of 27 Power) and your opponent has two units of 9 power (for a total of 18), you win with a score of 27 to 18. However, Gwent is much deeper than this, and winning a round does not necessarily mean that you will win the remaining ones.
 
Indeed, to be victorious in a game of Gwent, players will have to win two out of the three rounds that comprises a match. And since the number of cards that each player has is really limited, it is not unusual for players to hold back during the first round so as to incite their opponent to use their strong cards. Of course, even if it is the first round, most will try to seize a chance for victory if they see one, and this is where the bluffing starts. Regardless, you will often find yourself forced to give a round to your opponent to conserve your good cards. This is what makes Gwent such an interesting game.
 
As you can see from the screenshot above, I went all out during the first round until my opponent no longer felt like keeping up. I then fatigued him of his remaining cards for the second round since he had no choice to earn a win, and easily earned myself the third round. Aside from that, the developers of Gwent remained on a rather traditional road for the game. While there were some tweaks, the remaining features are exactly what you’d expect from a game of the genre, be it acquiring kegs (card packs), deck building, cards salvaging and crafting, and so on. 
 
From the first minutes of play, the effort made towards the immersion is notable. The visual style of the characters and environments echoes that of the saga of The Witcher, and it doesn’t take long to dive into the atmosphere of the game.
 
Conclusion

Everything in the Gwent of The Witcher predestined CD Projekt RED to lean one day or the other on a standalone outing of their deck of cards. With its rules, simple to understand, and its gameplay turned towards bluffing, the secondary hobby of the universe of the sorcerer becomes today a game in its own right. Gwent The Witcher Card Game is an excellent game title that has nothing to envy of its competitors.

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