Gwent: The Witcher Card Game Now on Android
Developed by CD Projekt Red, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game carries on the legacy of the renowned RPG series, The Witcher. Based on a card game of the same name in The Witcher 3, Gwent cuts out the middleman and takes you right to the tabletop. CD Projekt Red cares deeply about the worlds they create and likewise their fans. I experienced this firsthand when The Witcher 3 was released and CD Projekt Red followed it up with a series of free and diverse DLC packs. It’s almost unheard of that a developer would treat fans so well in today’s pay-to-play gaming arena. Because of this, coupled with the love I already held for Gwent, I absolutely could not wait to play this game. So, did it leave me spellbound? Maybe not as much as I hoped for.
Let’s Sit Down For a Spell
Gwent focuses on deckbuilding. Each card features unique art from The Witcher universe, showcasing characters, monsters and environments. Each style of deck has a corresponding leader who can cast spells. The starter deck styles include Monsters, Skellige, Nilfgaard, Northern Realms and Scoia’Tael. The game recommends you try the Monster deck out first. I listened, and I still prefer this deck after hours of gameplay. The Monster deck, for me, has the most compatible selection of cards. Almost every new card I play affects cards I’ve already sent to the battlefield, whether boosting their power or causing soldiers to multiply. My strategy involves outnumbering and overpowering my opponent quickly, and this deck allows that.
For each victory, you receive a keg filled with new cards. This is when you get to visit the happy troll who smashes kegs. There are other rewards as well, such as the aptly named reward points. Unique maps representing each individual deck and others representing different guilds act as reward trees. Spend your reward points here to unlock ores and meteor dust. Trade ores and meteor dust for kegs and unit upgrades, respectively.
Tabletop Swords and Sorcery
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game pits you against an online opponent for every match. There is no offline play, so you better hope the server connects you. That said, there were only a handful of times I failed to connect. Not a big deal, but I really wish there were AI opponents to challenge. The game’s load times aren’t horrendous but they’re not ideal either. When you are in the thick of combat, waiting on your opponent can take forever – and vice versa. You’ll want to examine each card before you commit to a play, so a game can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. If there were AI opponents, at least you might have the option to save a game and return to it later.
The game features three playable modes. Classic mode is 1v1 with normal rules. You’re dealt ten cards with the option to redraw three. Each match is best 2 out of 3, and there’s another mulligan before each round. The other two modes, Seasonal and Arena, unlock at level 10. Seasonal mode eliminates the mulligan, so you must make your initial ten cards last. Arena mode does the opposite, removing style-specific restrictions on decks, enabling you to build a Frankenstein army.
Beyond these different modes are quests and contracts you can complete to unlock reward points and ores for further customization. Literally every aspect of your experience can be customized, including the frame around your avatar, deck skins and tabletops. It’s unlikely you’ll ever battle someone with the exact same build as yours.
Wins and Losses
There are some major changes in Gwent: The Witcher Card Game for Android that deviates from the original featured in The Witcher 3. The biggest change is there are now only two rows for cards as opposed to three. Likewise, weather cards don’t exist anymore. Weather cards were row-specific and froze units or diminished their attack power for a turn. And now, with only two rows, none of the playable units are row-specific either. Now there are only two types of units, melee and ranged, and they can be played on either row. The removed unit, artillery, is still present but classified as ranged.
I admit, I miss a lot of the aspects of the original that are now absent. It doesn’t feel like Gwent to me. Not the Gwent I remember (I spent at least a quarter of my time in The Witcher 3 playing Gwent). That’s not to say this isn’t a game worth your time. I still enjoyed it and I’m sure I’ll continue to play it for months to come. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game has its own charm, and that’s okay. While I’m partial to the original, this version brings with it the kind of adventure we’ve come to expect and love from The Witcher universe.
There are virtually limitless deck variations you can build. Experimentation is key to seeing what cards play well together within their specific styles. The tweaks from the original, however, take away some of Gwent’s most beloved and strategic aspects. The online-only requirement spoils some of the fun, too. This is a must-play, but it falls just short of memorable.