Gwent’s gameplay has been completely revamped in the new standalone version, to the point where it only tenuously resembles the strategy of the original.
The Witcher 3 introduced players to a new kind of card game that was devilishly simple, but deceptively strategic. The game was so intoxicating that players abandoned their quests for hours to pursue opponents and collect rare cards. That game is Gwent.
The developers at Projekt Red picked up on the trend and wisely decided to give fans what they wanted: a standalone Gwent game.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game started going through various beta phases last year, and as developers rolled out new features and tweaked balancing one thing quickly became clear: the player vs. AI balancing was not going to cut it for player vs. player gameplay.
Since then, the rules of Gwent have slowly drifted further and further from the original game. While the game was originally three lines of cards with faces dominated by art because they rarely had an ability, now cards commonly have two or more abilities out of dozens which need to be learned in order to understand their interactions with other cards in the game. And this is just one of the many changes that have gone into the new Gwent to make it a more complex behemoth.
As a fan of the original, I am disappointed. The simplicity of Gwent is what set it apart in an industry of TCGs and CCGs that are increasingly complex. The ten minute learning curve was a breath of fresh air after playing games that take months to fully understand. And yet, understanding the game wasn’t the same as mastering it. With each new opponent, we learned new ways to leverage our cards in complex strategies that belied the cards’ simple faces. It was incredible. It was refreshing.
And now Gwent: The Witcher Card Game has seemingly devolved into a clone of every other card game out there. I don’t blame them. The original Gwent would have been a nightmare in PvP as players devolved into a single winning strategy for every game. But still, I lament the loss of the original’s charm.
But alas, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is still in game preview. Which means they aren’t finished developing it yet. While I am forced to see the G:TWCG as something wholly separate from in-game Gwent, it still looks to be a promising addition to the CCG world, and it also promises to give Witcher fans further chance to explore the realms of The Witcher that we so love. Not only do we get to revisit our old troll friend in the in-game shop from time to time, but we will also have campaigns to explore in the future. And I’m not talking Hearthstone campaigns where you click through a series of bosses. I’m talking campaigns with maps, side quests, and dialogue from characters new and old. I’m talking branching storylines and multiple playthroughs. And yes, I am still talking about a card game. To me, that is mind-blowing.
I won’t go into too much detail on the upcoming Thronebreaker Campaign, we have another article for that. But I will say that the announcement has made me rethink my disappointment with Gwent. While my initial disappointment at the loss of simple Gwent will never be banished, I am still a card game fan at my core, and I am excited to see what CD Projekt Red does to shake up the scene.
And for Pete’s sake, CD Projekt Red, stop fiddling and release the game already!