How did you get on with Gwent in The Witcher 3? It seemed like everyone was obsessed for a while. I enjoyed it, to begin with. It was surprisingly fully conceived for a mini-game. But as the Witcher 3 campaign got going and Gwent cards started being out of my way, I let it slide. My deck didn’t improve, I couldn’t compete with tougher opponents and I got thrashed. And so I gave up on Gwent.
But along comes Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, the new and improved standalone version currently in closed beta, and says, “You know me, we used to be friends, why don’t we try again?” Well why not? I know the rudiments, how the card game works – a familiarity shared by millions of Witcher 3 fans, which is why standalone Gwent has a real chance of success. But if Gwent wants to succeed outside of The Witcher 3 it will need to do more. Hearthstone insists on it.
Fortunately Gwent: The Witcher Card Game does do more. Even at a glance it’s more colourful, more animated, more bombastic. There’s new art, and cards have voice lines and even move around in their frames like Dawn French on the wall at Hogwarts. There’s personality, tactility. It’s no small compliment to say production values are up there with Hearthstone, a game Gwent evokes at every turn though one it plays fundamentally differently to. Remember the aim is not to kill enemy heroes but have the highest card-strength on the board, but you have a very limited amount of cards – you do not draw each turn – and potentially three rounds to last. If you use your best attacks early, your opponent will have options to deal with them, but if you wait and bluff and draw their cards out then perhaps you can run rampant later on – providing you’re still standing.