“Just a few minutes more”
“I’ll just play one more game”
These phrases are undoubtedly familiar to fellow gamers. What starts as a quick quest after-work can quickly escalate into a seven hour binge that leaves you wondering how it got to be 3am. Unsurprisingly, The Witcher 3 has been the latest culprit to destroy thousands of real world lives. With well over two-hundred hours of gameplay, there was never any question that the latest offering by CD Projekt Red would be a a powerful time succubus – a simultaneously foul and beautiful creature who you would willingly allow to distract you from food, sleep and personal hygiene.
I was prepared for all of the above…and then I walked into the tavern in White Orchard. That was when everything changed. I was no longer the Geralt of Rivia that we all know, love and have inappropriate thoughts about in the shower. Yenneferwho? Triss Merriwhat? Ciriously, what was my quest again? Sorry ladies, but you’re all going to have to wait, because there’s a new mistress in town, and her name is Gwent.
Reminiscent of both Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering, Gwent is a a deck building game of epic proportions. Like its real world counterparts, you need to put effort into your decks if you want any chance of becoming successful once you hit Novigrad and Skellige. Not only will you need to search far and wide for those delicious rare cards, embarking on a career in Gwent will also mean having to commit to one of the longest secondary quests in the game. Sound intimidating? It is. But it’s also god damn glorious and wonderfully addictive. Once hooked on Gwent, you’ll find yourself adopting a somewhat Pokemonesque mentality – you’ll wanna catch ’em all and be the very best, like no one ever was.
Gwent a double edged sword because it will appeal to the completionists in our gaming ranks who will inevitably want to collect every card, as well as tabletop fans who love a good deck builder. I happen to be a fan of both, which is why I’ve spent more time harassing tavern owners and shop keeps for both games and cards than polishing off witcher contracts. To put it simply, it’s a surprisingly great game.
Let’s just stop and think about this for a moment. The Witcher 3 is a game I have wholeheartedly fallen in love with. In addition to the fantastic combat mechanics and varied dialogue options, its luscious landscape and immersive storyline have spoken to me in a way that I never thought possible. I haven’t been this emotionally invested in a playable narrative since Dragon Age: Inquisition,and the ending of that nearly destroyed my soul. Bearing that in mind, you know that I mean serious business when I say that I was too busy card sharking down at the dank and dubious local to go and meet Yen in Skellige.
Now I know that Gwent can seem a little intimidating at first, particularly if you lose your first tutorial match. Luckily, I didn’t have that problem, because I’m a winner. Seriously though, it’s well worth taking the time to learn…but make sure you do it early on. Getting addicted a hundred hours in won’t be as lucrative as it will be if you commit from the beginning. Some of those rare OP cards are only accessible from characters who may be dead later, so don’t wait until old mate is hanging from a tree to discover that you want to become a hardcore Gwenter. Bend to the might of Gamblor now and start hitting those taverns, son. You don’t want to disgrace yourself in the High Stakes quest when you roll up with a subpar Northern Realms deck. Don’t be that guy.
I could explain how the game works, but it’s been about forty minutes since my last game and I’m starting to get the shakes. I will however give you a few pieces of advice before handing it over to the CD Projekt Red team, who will show you how this mother is done in their brand new tutorial video.
- Hit up every tavern for games – it’s a great way to get decent cards easily and quickly. Don’t forget to check to see if they’re also selling cards!
- Don’t underestimate the Spy/Decoy card combos. I recommend using this tactic in the first round and purposely losing. This way your opponent haemorrhages cards early on and you beef up your own hand for later.
- Pay close attention to the cards you have in your decks. If you have a knack for the game, you’ll do okay with a shitty deck early on through pure strategising, but that will only get you so far. Cycle out those low powered cards as soon as you can so you’re ready to play with the big boys.
- It’s going to take a long time to build up anything that isn’t part of the Northern Realms. That’s okay! If you know how to use it right, you will dominate with this deck. Frankly, you need to in order to get any other good cards at all. Be patient, this is absolutely a Field of Dreams type situation. If you build it, the cards will come.
- I personally haven’t been going too nuts with the weather cards. One or two here and there can be fun, particularly when they screw an opponent’s game plan up, but they’re not my favourite strategic technique. I would much prefer to discard them in the beginning in the hopes of getting a special card or my beloved spy. That being said, if you get your hands on a Clear Weather card, hold onto it for dear life.
Now, it’s time to learn how to play so you can become a pathetic, addicted shell of your former self. It’s great! Now, join me on social media to harass CD Projekt Red about making this beautiful monstrosity a standalone iOS/Android/Steam/tabletop game.
This article was originally published on Maude Garrett’s Geek Bomb