The latest expansion for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is just around the corner! Iron Judgment releases on October 2nd, and with it comes a whole host of new cards for players to tinker around with, as well as some old favorites and familiar faces.
But even as we look forward to this latest expansion, there are still some concerns regarding the changes on the horizon. Whether it's the number of cards, the leader decoupling issue, or the shifting meta game, there's a lot to consider here. Let's go over five things that we're worried about in the upcoming expansion - but also five things we're excited to see!
10 Worried: Fewer Cards
While Gwent has been releasing regular expansions since launch, Iron Judgment is the smallest of the three. The Crimson Curse and Novigrad expansions had over 100 and 90 new cards respectively, while Iron Judgment only has a little more than 80.
Add to this the fact that Gwent just added a new faction in the Syndicate and that over 20 of the new cards are neutrals, not associated with any particular faction, and it seems that this latest expansion won't be dramatically changing the game the way the previous two did. While small supplemental expansions certainly have a place, one hopes that they don't come at the cost of major, game changing additions in the future.
9 Excited: New Cards
Even if there aren't as many, new cards are new cards. Regardless of whether Iron Judgment is a game changing expansion or more of a supplemental pack, we've already gotten a look at some of the new cards incoming and it looks like they'll be a blast to play with.
Whether it's Yghern's massive power or Affan Hillgergrand's interesting synergy with numerous Nilfgaard cards, there are multiple promising cards on the way. The first few days of the expansion's release are sure to be a lot of fun as players try out all the new possibilities and find the next game breaking combos.
8 Worried: Leader Ability Decoupling
The expansion isn't the only thing releasing in October - a new update will also go live that decouples leaders and leader abilities. In other words, the 3D leader models on the battlefield and the actual leader abilities won't actually be connected anymore.
The reason for this change is reportedly to give the development team more freedom when it comes to releasing cosmetics for the game, and for developing new leader abilities without having to create a whole new leader model. However, this introduces the question as to whether we'll be getting any new leader abilities in Iron Judgment. Nothing has been announced, so it seems unlikely, but we'll just have to wait and see.
7 Excited: Armor
The main feature of Iron Judgment is the return of the armor mechanic. Armor was originally present in Gwent's open beta, and showed up in the standalone game Thronebreaker, but was removed from Gwent's full release.
Armor is basically extra health for a unit that doesn't count towards a player's point total. It created interesting situations in the open beta where it allowed players to protect their powerful units, but generally didn't contribute as many points to their total as other cards. It'll be interesting to see how the developers have introduced the mechanic in the full release version of the game.
6 Worried: Reward Tree
The next concern on our list goes hand in hand with the leader ability decoupling. In the past, new expansions have had reward trees in the reward book related to each of the new leaders they introduced. However, if Iron Judgment doesn't introduce new characters, the question is how will the reward trees be handled?
It's possible that we may simply see a single reward tree for the expansion, but this would mean significantly less content than the previous two additions, on top of the lower card count. Perhaps there will be reward trees for each of the factions associated with Iron Judgment, but as with many of the worries on this list, we'll ultimately just have to wait and see what happens.
5 Excited: Defender, Barricade, And Exposed
One of the more exciting parts of a new expansion is seeing the new keywords introduced, which tend to set the tone of the expansion. Crimson Curse had bleeding and vitality, and Novigrad had the profit ability. It's no surprise that Iron Judgment introduces keywords related to its chief mechanic, armor.
Barricade describes an ability that activates if a unit has armor, while exposed is used to cause an effect when a unit loses its armor. Then there's the defender keyword, which is the most interesting as it applies to a unit that prevents other units on its row from being targeted. These powerful new mechanics are sure to shake things up when Iron Judgment releases.
4 Worried: Armor Balance
Gwent has changed a lot since its first iteration as a mini game in The Witcher 3. One of the most significant alterations came as it transitioned from its open beta to full release. The aesthetic of the game changed, a whole card row was cut, and a lot of cards were completely reworked.
The game also shifted from one focused on dealing massive damage to units to one more about small pings of one or two points. While this is arguably better for the game balance, it does bring up the question of how armor will work in this new system. Armored units could potentially be almost impossible to remove when playing a deck focused on ping damage, so it'll be important to see how the game evolves moving forward.
3 Excited: Tri-Art Cards Are Back
Another part of the game that was cut in the full release was tri-art - the term for three bronze cards with the same name, but with different art that when set side by side formed a tableau. The shift from a three bronze max to a two bronze max eliminated tri-art cards in the full release, to fans' disappointment.
However, tri-art cards are returning, in the form of new gold cards. It looks like at least both Nilfgaard and Scoia'tael will be getting some new gold cards with artwork that form a cohesive image. While it's not exactly the same as in the open beta, it's still a welcome nod to the old style.
2 Worried: Faction Identity
A constant issue with Gwent is the concern of faction identity. There are six separate factions now, and while some have distinct playstyles, others are a little tricky to pin down. For example, Northern Realms is all about boosting engines, but while it does provide some additional benefits, it's not necessarily unique.
This contrasts to other factions like Syndicate, which is based around the coin mechanic and Skellige, which may not be the most meta friendly faction but has a clear philosophy of resurrection and self damage. With fewer cards being introduced, it's unclear if we're going to see faction identities shift all that much, which could spell trouble.
1 Excited: Radovid Returns
Finally, the thing most fans are excited about is the return of Radovid V of Redania as a leader for the Northern Realms. Radovid was present in the open beta, but was cut when the game released as the developers narrowed the focus of the game.
While Radovid is being released as a cosmetic, not associated with any leader ability, his return is one of the most anticipated elements of Iron Judgment. Despite being a sadistic, possibly insane king, his character was a favorite during the beta and many fans are sure to be happy to see him return triumphantly.