If you have ever played The Witcher 3 the chances are that you will have played Gwent the mini card game and a great extra to the overall experience of The Witcher 3’s brilliance. As Gwent was so hugely popular CD Projekt Red decided to make a standalone version which has currently been in a closed beta since October 25th 2016. As I was lucky enough to get access to the beta back in October I have got to experience how the game has developed and how the game plays. Since the most recent patch brought in many new players as well as the 5th faction of Nilfgaard I decided to write this article, to give some insight into Gwent The Witcher Card game. In short Gwent is about beating your opponent by having the higher score and winning 2 of the 3 rounds in a game. This can be done through various styles, combinations and synergies of play revolving around different factions and cards.
There are currently 5 factions in Gwent and as much as I would like to see a Toussaint faction added in the future I imagine that the current 5 made up of Skellige, Northen Realms, Monsters, Scoia’tael and Nilfgaard will be the only ones we see. There are various cards that are faction specific as well as cards from the neutral section that can be played across any of the 5 factions. Each faction has a special ability for example Monsters keeps one random unit on the board at the end of every round. Northern Realms adds 2 points to every gold card on your side of the board. Skellige adds 1 point to every unit in your deck every round. Scoia’tael’s ability allows you to choose who goes first in a round of your choice. Lastly Nilfgaard allows you to redraw one card per round. Each faction currently has three leader cards but you may only use one per deck. Although each faction has various different decks and play styles that work they are also linked towards specific deck types. For example the Monsters faction has a large number of weather immune units which is designed to be played with a Monster weather deck.
There are three types of cards in the game; bronze, silver and gold. in each deck you may have a total of 40 cards with a minimum of 25 currently required to make the deck playable. You may also have 4 gold cards per deck as well as 6 silver and as many bronze cards as you like (although there is a maximum of 3 for each individual bronze card.) It is important to note that a gold card is not necessarily better than a silver card as each card actually has a rarity which can be seen in a little box in the bottom right hand corner. A white box means that the card is common and this can only be found on bronze cards. A blue box means that the card is rare and this can be found with bronze and silver cards. A purple square means that the card is an epic and these can be found for gold and silver cards. Lastly a golden square means that the card is legendary and these can be either gold or silver. The starter decks give you a few rare and a couple of epics but they are mostly commons. In order to try and get better cards you can save up scrap from milling spare cards as well as doing daily rewards. for a new player the scraps cost for crafting a new card can seem ridiculous as it costs 30 for a common, 80 for a rare, 200 for an epic and 800 for a legendary. However you can also get cards from kegs which can be brought using the in game currency of ore which again can be earned from levelling up, playing games and doing daily rewards. They can also be brought with real money. As of a few updates ago you can now get premium cards which are beautifully animated versions of already existing cards. They cost double the amount of the normal versions to craft but there milling prices are the same as normal and therefore i would say not to bother crafting them as they are a waste and you should just try to get them in kegs. At the moment there aren’t that many animated cards in the game but the plan is for all cards to eventually have a premium version. as I mentioned above one way to earn scrap to craft new cards is to mill duplicates or unwanted cards. the milling prices are as follows; 5 for a common, 10 for a rare, 50 for an epic and 200 for a legendary. This can seem quite low but over time it will build up and with some grinding you will soon be able to craft that legendary you want.
Changes to the Game:
As the game is in beta it often undergoes changes to cards and decks in order to try and make it balanced. This is because with every patch there are decks that are typically stronger than other decks and therefore they are often the most played and considered the Meta. However I think CD has done an excellent job of balancing the cards and decks in the time I have played the game. While there have been some questionable nerfs or buffs to certain cards, on the whole the game is in a far more balanced state now than it was back in October and that is the most important thing for the development of the game. Some examples of the regular changes can be seen with the most recent update. As post patch two decks were particular annoying and overpowered, these were known as PFI and Scoia’tael first light rally. Although the PFI deck was annoying it did have some counters if you built you’re entire deck around it. But the Scoia’tael first light deck was incredibly unfair as your opponent could potentially pull about 7 to 8 cards out of his deck in one move, leading to a ridiculously unfair advantage. Of course as these decks were so good everyone who could, made them and this led to the game becoming quite boring and unfun as you would play the same deck almost every game and unless you played the deck as well you would almost certainly lose. But with the new patch both decks were nerfed and this leads to a more balanced game as well as many players playing different decks which was a very welcome change. However as I said above with every patch there will be strong decks with Monster devour and Skellige Wounding the now powerful ones as well as potentially Monster Weather however all of these can still be countered and although they are considered OP there are lots of counters available unlike the previous patch meta decks. Many cards in the game often get buffed or nerfed with every patch, and as I said this is good for the game because it means that new decks and card combos become possible with every update but it can also backfire with some nerfs and buffs being a little heavy leading to arguably overpowered cards or cards that are useless and therefore don’t ever get used. The most recent patch was the largest in the game to date and added in the fifth faction of Nilfgaard as well as some other new cards. Nilfgaard is based around treachery and knowledge and therefore the faction has lots of cards in it that enable you to see your opponents cards as well as lots of spies. Nilfgaard is definitely weak against some decks currently but overall it is quite balanced and I win just as many game as I lose whilst playing with it. I would also say that it is the most fun deck to curently play with, as certain cards enable you to manipulate you deck which can lead to powerful combinations and interesting synergies.
Kegs are a vital part of the game as they are the main way to get new cards. for each keg you open you will get 5 cards one of these is guaranteed to be a rare or higher in quality. When you open a keg you will be given 4 cards facing the other way and showing their faction flags you then click on them to turn them over although by simply highlighting over the card you will be able to tell the rarity of the card as it will glow with the corresponding colour or either white, blue, purple or gold. Once you have turned over the last card you will be presented with three new cards which are guaranteed to be of either rare quality or higher you may then choose one of these three to keep and the other two will be discarded. The final three cards will always be the same quality therefore if you get a legendary as your final card you will have a choice out of three legendary cards. The drop rate for kegs is actually very good in my opinion as before the Nilfgaard patch I opened 1-2 kegs per day and kept a tally of the cards I had got until I had opened 50 kegs in total. I ended up with 4 legendary, 7 epic and 52 rare cards which I feel is very good. On average it is believed that you will get a legendary roughly every 30 kegs but as I managed 4 in 50 I would say the droprate may be more frequent than that. You may purchase kegs with either real life money or with ore which is the in-game currency. You earn ore from playing matches and completing the daily rewards which involves winning rounds in matches. I have found that you can normally open 2-3 kegs per day with around 1-3 hours playing time depending on how you play as you will get the rewards quicker if you win more games. I feel that overall kegs are done very well in the game as should you be willing to spend actual money you can, but there is no guarantee of getting what you want and if you don’t want to spend money then you don’t have to as you will be rewarded fairly for playing the game anyway.
Future of Gwent:
The future of Gwent looks bright as more players will continue to get their closed beta keys. With CD saying that everyone who signed up for the beta before 2017, will be getting there key within the next few weeks. Although no date has been announced yet the game will then enter an open beta. It is important to note that upon entering open beta all current players like myself will have their scraps, cards and ore wiped and their levels reset. However they will also be gifted with a premium version of the Geralt card that comes in the starter decks as well as a number of kegs which will be equivalent to the amount of time that they have put into the game so that the beta players do not feel as though they have wasted their time. Personally I think this is excellent as it means that everyone starts at the same point but those who have spent many hours playing Gwent will also be rewarded. All though it is not confirmed I think that once the game enters open beta there will be no more wipes as it will be available to everyone at this point. Once the game is fully released it will be free to play however there will be a campaign that will have to be paid for. Personally this isn’t a problem as CD have already proved that you definitely get your moneys worth with their products and therefore I have confidence that this campaign will be of a high standard and very enjoyable to play. By doing it this way it also allows people who are not interested in the single player campaign to still play the game for free which I think is an outstanding way of approaching it as they could very easily have charged for the whole game. Over the next few years of Gwent there will also be numerous new cards added to the game as well the premium versions I mentioned earlier and this will enable the game to stay fresh with new cards to try to get as well as new ways to play.
Advise to new players:
To end the article I thought I would give some advise to new players who may be getting there beta codes in the next few weeks or for when the game goes into open beta. When you first start playing the game it can be confusing especially as a lot of cards have abilities and actions. I would recommend reading the card descriptions carefully before you play them as well as seeing what you opponent has played and reading what his cards do. Also if you make a mistake like destroying your own units by accident don’t worry about it as we have all done something similar at some point. In fact in a game I played just the other day my opponent managed to scorch his own unit by not paying attention to the fact that it had been buffed to be the highest thing on the board. In regards to kegs and crafting cards I would advise that you play the game and try out the different factions and see which ones you like the best first. Not only will you learn about cards this way but you will also gain daily rewards which will help you to get kegs which will lead to better cards as well as cards to mill for that precious scrap. I would also strongly recommend not crafting any legendary cards straight away as 4 epics will be far more beneficial for new players and they will see more use than one legendary card. once you have 4 gold and 6 silver cards in your deck, then you can start saving up for them legendary cards. I would say to also go for neutral legendaries first as they will be playable across all 5 factions and therefore are arguably the more useful unless you’ve decided that you only want to play with a specific faction. Unless there is a card that you really want I would say not to bother trying to save up to craft the legendaries for quite some time anyway. This is because I myself have only ever crafted 4 legendaries 2 of which were for the new Nilfgaard patch as I wanted to play with the new cards. Yet I have around 15 legendaries that I have got from kegs, many of which have been cards that I wanted to craft. Of course this is just my luck and opinion and if you really want a card then by all means save up for it. Lastly have fun and if you need help be sure to go to websites such as Gwentify for card and deck advise. Or if you have any queries feel free to go the forums on Reddit and CD Projekt Reds website as there will be plenty of friendly people there who are happy to help.