Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is nearing its official release and has been a frequent play of mine since getting into the closed beta. Watching videos of pro-level decks, and having a chance to get up to rank nine in season play, has given me an appreciation of the mini-game-turned-full-on #CCG. With that being said, Gwent continues to fail in major areas that have me reaching for the quit button.
1. Too Few Cards
As of writing, #Gwent has the fewest cards in any major CCG on the market. This is good because it means fewer cards to learn, but it comes at a price. The lack of cards means that it's very easy to find the best net deck combinations. A net deck refers to looking online at a professional player's deck and simply copying it for your own.
While there are currently five factions in the game, the top cards are readily known by the community. This also makes it very difficult to get out of the repetition of certain combinations.
If you're going to build a Weather Monster or Spy Nilfgaard deck, there are cards that you will see in every deck no matter what, because they are the only ones that go with that particular build. Speaking of which.
2. Not Enough Valid Deck Builds
One of the biggest alterations to Gwent after entering the open beta has been changing how leaders work. Instead of leaders defining builds, they each provide one ability that can either fit into a build or enhance a potential strategy. While this was a welcome change, it didn't correct one of Gwent's biggest problems.
Because Gwent is designed around specific deck builds, it greatly limits the utility and variety seen in the game. This also creates an issue when it comes to balancing the game; it's never one card that is overpowered, but a combination.
Gwent features a vast variety of cards, with the majority of them just not viable to play. The reason is that there is a wide gap between the best and worst decks in the game. The best cards are too good, while the bad or niche cards aren't good enough. Trying to be creative with your deck doesn't work if someone has a better, more economical strategy.
And getting the cards you need to be remotely competitive takes me to my last problem.
3. Pay For Advantage
As with any CCG, Gwent has different rarities of cards, ranging from common to legendary. Opening kegs that you earn from daily quests (or spending real money) will earn you five random cards. If you get duplicates, you can mill them for scrap which can go toward a card of your choosing once you get enough.
The problem is that, quite frankly, Gwent is a nightmare to play when you're starting out — just like any CCG. The recent changes to starter decks are nice, but once again pigeonhole play into specific builds and strategies.
If you don't get lucky when opening kegs, it's going to take a long time to get the cards you're looking for. As a point of comparison, the rarity tiers cost the following scrap: 30, 80, 200, 800.
Many decks succeed or fail because of one or more legendary-ranked cards. And if you don't have those specific cards, prepare to have a frustrating time compared to those who were luckier or had more money than you.
This also makes it trickier to experiment with a combination of different cards, as you'll have to use either money or scrap to be able to try them out, without being able to see their impact. And if you want to try something else, expect to repeat the whole process over and over again.
Gwent is in a weird position at the moment. Despite just coming out of closed beta, the game has been out and examined for quite a while now. You either know if you're going to keep playing Gwent or stop due to frustration.
If CD Projekt Red wants to compete with the other games on the market, then it's going to have to work at the foundation problems that Gwent has when it comes to CCG design. The most recent balancing patch has been released, but the developers will still need to figure out ways around these three points going forward.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is due out later in 2017. Have you played the open beta? Tell us what you think in the comments below.