Gwent: The Witcher Card Game beta campaign is on:
I won’t describe at lenght what is Gwent. Even if I, almost, never posted any article about the Witcher series, I refered to it many times. I do like the Witcher. The video-game sure, the original books indeed, even maybe the movie. I recommend them all, in any order – maybe not the movie first, ahem.
The Witcher 3 got some awards for best game of the year. It is entirely deserved. From the base game to the extensions, gameplay, graphics, plots and story, ambiance and dialogs, it is excellent.
So if you do not know what Gwent is, I suggest you start playing the Witcher 3. You’ll get familiar with this card game Geralt plays in taverns. Because taverns are a cornerstone in any decent RPG and do matter much in Geralt heroic-fantasy world, a world well inspired and designed from historic perspective (you might wanna catch up with the thread Kingdoms and their real-life counterparts: cards are well shuffled!).
I do enjoy Gwent in the Witcher 3. It is probably a reason why I played as much as around 162 hours to the game. Any tavern, any hero or villain, they all do enjoy a Gwent game.
Ahem, yes, I also obtained real sets of Gwents cards. It looks like (not my pictures):
How is the Gwent real-life experience? Real-life deck selection part is a bit of a bore and might lead to very uneven games. Within the Witcher 3, it is not a concern since you improve your deck over time, so you keep within your deck best cards. But when provided with a full deck at once, you are flooded with both overkill and (useless) beginners cards. Beside that, during playthrough, some cards effects require to look in the deck during game, creating some bias. It is cool but far from being as enjoyable as within the game.
So how the Gwent: The Witcher Card Game beta compares? My first impressions were not so great:
- Cards are harder to understand, to read: they removed some mini-icons that made easy to find out cards effects without paying much attention to the card ;
- Effects (double power, etc) made on a card by another stays on even if the said another is removed : that alters a lot the game flow, cards are less of a set once played ;
- Effects made on the board by a card seems to have no effect on cards added to the board afterwards : odd, you have the rain/snow/fog affecting only some of the units in some row ;
- The whole concept (ability to transform real money into cards) might lead to some terrible pay-to-win ;
- Graphics and sound are aggressive, more like some Orcs must die! battleground than a dark tavern in Redania ; quite obviously, it reminds of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, precursor and likely competitor.
This official screenshot gives an idea: it flashes and bangs all the time.
I was disappointed. Mainly because it really differed from what I was used to. Because it is actually not bad:
- Cards are hard to read? As any card game, it is a turn-based game. But when you play a real card game, time is never lost, during your opponent turn you actually look at his face, you pay attention to what he is paying attention to, etc. With original Witcher 3 gwent deck, players would not look at their cards often, so each would loose the benefit of seeing the mouse of the opponent moving around the board ; what looks like a defect in first place could actually be a nice well-thought gameplay component ;
- Effects on a card stays on? That is probably due to the overall increase of cards having such effects, over the whole board. Many cards do +4, +2 +n or -4, -2, -n to whichever other(s) card(s) the player wants. It would be quite hard to remember which one gave or removed what, over a whole round ;
- Graphics and sounds are aggressive? Sure, but nice to watch. As suggested before, it gives a Orcs must die! ambiance, which is not bad per se. Distracting? Could be, but, once again, distracting interface can also be a nice well-thought gameplay component.
To sum it, it is not bad, actually.
So what about the pay-to-win risk? I guess we’ll have to wait for an actual game release to check whether it really makes a difference. But I do not picture myself paying for a card. I’m fine paying to play a game but I’m concerned about paying to alter (improve) my gaming experience. Sounds lame, some weak sauce.
We’ll see how it develops. I liked Gwent within the Witcher 3. This new gwent could be fine. But will it be, at least, as good as in the Witcher 3?
The movie was not a public success, when asked to comment, Sapkowski said:
“I can answer only with a single word, an obscene, albeit a short one.”
“I am a Polish Catholic, it is Lent now; I cannot utter swear words.”
After making proper games that are no shame to original Geralt, now CD Projekt is at risk of botching the followup of Gwent, their own legacy. Quite a challenge to face it’s own Geralt!