At this point, the only people interested in gaming who haven’t heard of the colossal success of The Witcher series must have built their base under some type of Wi-Fi-deprived rock. Starting from the humble beginnings of early CD Projekt RED, this Polish-developed game dropped the first entry into mainstream AAA gaming with The Witcher in 2007. Since then, two sequels have propelled the company into mainstream superstardom, with The Witcher 3 especially standing as not only one of the best RPGs, but also being highly regarded as one of the best games of all time.
As we all salivate waiting for their newest probable bestseller, Cyberpunk 2077, we thought it would be a good idea to look at Gwent, the card game which proved so popular with The Witcher 3 it evolved into a full-fledged game in its own right.
Polishing the Stone
Originally detailed within the novels which inspired The Witcher series, Gwent saw its first real start as a fun sort of side-activity. Gwent acts as a sort of similar take on how Final Fantasy 8 added their Triple Triad to run parallel to and add various small additions to the game, without requiring constant dedication and attention. Unlike Final Fantasy 8, however, the rules in Gwent would not require player manipulation to remain fun, and as such, it built a much more solid foundation.
While there weren’t originally plans to extend Gwent beyond the constraints of TW3, CD Project RED co-founder Marcin Iwiński tells that it was fan support that made an independent Gwent a reality. Shortly after the game’s release, their team had apparently received thousands of emails in dozens of different languages requesting a full and separate product. With fan projects quickly appearing to create third-party adoptions, CD Projekt RED had seen the writing on the wall and went into full development.
The closed beta for Gwent went live in October of 2016, while the public beta released in May 2017, with the full release slated for some time in late 2018.
Taking up the Sword
The biggest competition which Gwent sees is Blizzard’s Hearthstone, with many asking the question as to which one will hold the eventual place as the crowned king. While Hearthstone has an undeniable advantage in terms of sheer player count, owing to the game already having an official release and a huge fan base from which to draw, it’s important to note that a head start is not always a guarantee of victory. After all, PUBG started with an enormous lead on Fortnite, yet their business decisions have left them increasingly lagging behind. Sure, Blizzard might not be as guilty of poor practices as Bluehole, but then Bluehole did set that bar remarkably high, and remarkably quickly.
Whether or not Gwent is capable of dethroning Hearthstone really comes down to which base each game really appeals to. The two are very different at the core, with Hearthstone relying more on luck, whereas Gwent adopts facets of more professional gambling, such as reading and bluffing. This means that fans of more traditional gambling games should be much happier to transfer their skills into a more classically based video game environment.
In simple terms – the more casual the player is the more likely they will be to prefer Hearthstone. On the other hand, those players who have already built their skills in bluffing, playing patiently, and watching for special opportunities for the perfect time to strike will no doubt find Gwent to be a much more competitively valid form of video-game-based card competition.
Tips Without Tilting
Both of these games come needing an in-depth strategy, which has always been part of the appeal for them. As such, there’s been some crossover into other areas that can help the average player improve their games and take on the challenge.
First and foremost you need to know that just as with other card games that enjoy a measure of skill like poker or bridge, experience is the key to success. Understanding exactly what needs to be played and when means first understanding the sheer breadth of the cards on offer. You can’t counter a strategy or card you don’t know after all, and certain playstyles will inevitably become more popular in the meta. Experience will help build your frame of reference, so it’s undoubtedly the best place to start.
This also helps when it comes to bluffing and the metagame thereof. Gwent is a highly tactical game where reserving cards at the right time can be instrumental in your success, so feints and sand-bagging are high-level tactics which all successful players are going to have to obtain some mastery of.
Finally, by playing the game a bit you should get a handle on which cards suit you the best, and which cards you want to add to your deck. Simply going out and buying every card is not going to be great for your wallet. Like all card players who are used to playing for real money will tell you, budget appropriately in a manner that suits your needs and keep a lookout for the specific cards and card packs which are right for you, then go after them.
Geralt vs. Goliath
Competition not only within games but between them has been a staple of video gaming culture since its inception. With Gwent, CD Projekt RED certainly have an uphill battle against the much more established dominance of the team at Blizzard. That said, the greater emphasis on players over sheer profit has done an exceptional deal in building the legacy of CD Projekt RED, while many gamers heap derision on Blizzard and their seemingly anti-consumer practices.
At this point we feel confident in stating the Gwent will emerge a powerful force in online gaming, and one which brings us a step closer to blending traditional card games with the video game cousins, but as for the eventual victor – we will have to wait and see.