One of the many things gamers loved in The Witcher 3 was Gwent, an in-game game with colectible cards that made players run from tavern to tavern and from town to town seeking new opponents and cards for their collection. The fans asked for a stand-alone Gwent game and CD Projekt Red listened. Last summer the studios announced at E3, GWENT: The Witcher Card Game, some months later the closed beta begins.
While most of online card games have similar rules with Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, Gwent is something completely different. Each game in Gwent has three rounds, the player who will win two of them is the winner (best of 3). There are three lanes in the games, one for melee units, one for ranged and one for siege. Each unit has a number that represents its power, in order to win a round the total power of your units has to be bigger than your opponents. Of course there are also special card in the game than can buff up an entire lane or destroy enemy units for example. The fact that you will have to win two rounds out of three opens up many strategies and the option to bluff, forcing your opponent to play many cards in a round you are planing to lose.
The available factions in the game are four, Skellige, Monsters, Scoia'tael and Northern Kingdoms with the fifth faction Nilfaardian Empire coming after the beta. All the familiar characters from The Witcher series are here with the leaders of each faction having unique abilities, similar to classes in Hearthstone.
Gwent is following the classic free-to-play card game model with the cards coming from packs that you can buy with in-game gold or with real money. Compared to Hearthstone it is easier to gather gold and buy card packs. Also each card pack you open allows you to choose a rare card out of three, making the progress less random and allowing you to build the deck of your choice faster. Of course there is a crafting system here too, you can salvage the cards you don't need and craft new ones.
So far there are only competitive modes available, ranked and casual, with CD Project Red promising a strong single player experience coming in the future and having narrative designer Karolina Stachyra, who wrote the famous Bloody Baron quest for The Witcher 3, working on the story mode.
GWENT: The Witcher Card Game is an easy to learn and fun to play game that offers something different from the other online card games.