As some of you may know I have an on again off again relationship with Hearthstone Blizzards amazingly addictive collectible card game, along with that I have a deep and undying love for all things Witcher. When it was announced that Gwent the collectible card game from the games final entry The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was being made into a stand alone game I was needless to say excited. Of course I was also a little fearful as there was a lot of hurdles in the way of fun for this game.

The first issue was the nature of Gwent itself, as anyone who has played The Witcher 3 knows that whoever has the most Spies normally wins. Indeed it was possible to make a virtually unbeatable deck in the game, my personal favorite was my Nilfgaard deck as a free card is always welcome. This of course would be problematic for an online competitive collectible card game.

Luckily the folks over at CD Projekt Red have managed to balance the game quiet nicely. Although like all online CCG’s Gwent is prone to cookie cutter decks the limited amount of cards and draws makes this a bit more manageable. Furthermore at least at the moment there seems to be a good balance between the four available factions (Nilfgaard remains outstanding) at least in the levels of play I currently reside in.

One thing that became clear early on was that it was best to focus on building up one deck. By the nature of the faction system each faction has unique skills and abilities. I choose Monsters as early on I was getting stronger monster cards. They exist mostly unchanged from The Witcher 3 designed to spam the board and win with superior numbers - though they are not as powerful as they were in that game early on.

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On the more Meta side of things Gwent requires strategy and a knowledge of the flow of the game. With very limited cards at your disposal being one match down (Gwent is a best of three matches) and at a card disadvantage can be daunting. Furthermore with many powers and potions, including Weather effects (especially for Monster players) there is a lot to keep track of. While you can still be destroyed by a more powerful deck and a bad roll of the random number generator, Gwent feels like you have more say at the end of the game.

Off the table top Gwent has an inventive way to encourage good manners in their game. Following a match win or lose you get a chance to “Good Game” somebody, if that person GG’s you you get a bonus. Five Ore or Scraps in my experience depending on the level. Furthermore the chance to give a GG is quite long post match meaning if you get the GG Bonus and you don’t reciprocate... well you kinda feel like the asshole you are.

Furthermore unlike Hearthstone which offers daily quests to build up dust. Gwent offers “A new day” Bonus, once a day if you win two matches you get 100 Ore, which is enough to buy “Kegs”. Kegs being what gives you cards. While not “Free” cards, a Keg a Day has served to keep me interested as I can feel constant progress being made. Indeed Gwent seems to be one of the most generous CCG’s online at the moment.

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One lingering question hanging over everything though in the closed Beta is can it compete and make money. Going up against a juggernaut like Hearthstone, and make no mistake Cd Projekt Red is gunning for Blizzards reigning champion in the online CGG market. As it stands right now I’m not sure, I’m hooked but I’m predisposed to liking it anyways.

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At the end of the day Gwent is fun, it’s addictive, and balanced enough I am willing to keep coming back. For how long that last, I don’t really know. However if you get an invite to the Closed Beta check it out and when it opens up to the public I encourage anyone who likes either The Witcher or CCG’s to check it out.