It’s hard to imagine a world where Hearthstone isn’t the mobile collectible card game du jour, but developers CD Projekt RED believe they may have found a winner in Witcher 3’s Gwent.
Gwent was originally a small mini game found in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where players took a break from slaying monsters to spend the night playing cards with various bar patrons. Originally a dwarven card game for 4 players called Barrel, The Witcher 3 simplified the rules to be a two player game that is actually kinda fun.
In Gwent, players face off against each other on a battlefield where the cards represent the player’s forces. The battlefield is separated into three sections: melee, ranged, and siege. Each player starts with 10 cards and is able to play 1 card per turn (unless an ability says otherwise). Each unit that’s played is placed in the battlefield section according to their role, and each unit has a number representing their power. The objective is to have more combined power on the battlefield than their opponent by the end of the round. The round ends when the player runs out of cards or passes the turn without playing any cards.
But there’s a catch - the game is best two out of three rounds, so a player that plays all their units on the first round will lose the second and third rounds. Players also draw additional cards as the game progresses, and some cards can alter the stated power of units already on the board. Ultimately each match is a complex game of chicken where both players try to bluff the other into overplaying their hand.
Each game is also short. With only 10 cards on the first round, 2 more cards on the second, and one card on the third, there are very few cards to play making each game last little more than a few minutes. This quick turn around makes it an ideal contender for the fickle attention span of mobile games, although currently it’s only being offered on Windows 10, Playstation Store and Xbox Arcade.
With a simple premise, a rich lore to draw from in The Witcher series, and a tried and tested free-to-play business model, will it be enough to unseat Hearthstone? Try the open beta and see for yourself.