ByDan O'Halloran, writer at
Writer. Father. Gamer. Geek. Not necessarily in that order. @danoh
Dan O'Halloran

Though still in closed beta, the strategic card game Gwent already has some stand out cards that are seeing a lot of play in competitive decks. Though the game is still going through changes while in testing, many of these cards will likely make it to the launch of the game next year.

For those of you unfamiliar with game, it started as a game-within-a-game inside The Witcher title. Now it's being developed by CD Projekt Red as a stand alone title to compete with Hearthstone, Hex, and other trading card games for your hard earned cash.

The basics of the game is that both you and your opponent have three rows on the board: melee, ranged, and siege. You can play the corresponding units from your hand on to the assigned rows as well as spells that affect the unit or entire rows of units. At the end of the round, you add up the strength of all the units on the board and the side with the greatest total strength wins. Best two out of three rounds wins the match.

With that, let's get to the playmaker cards:

1. Geralt

  • Strength: 12
  • Row: Melee/Loyal
  • Ability: None

Not only does Geralt have the highest base strength of the game, but he is a gold card. That means detrimental special effects won't hurt him. That kind of immunity can make or break you in a round.

2. Scorch

  • Ability: Destroy the strongest non-Gold unit(s) on the battlefield.

Scorch is exactly the kind of card non-gold units fear the most. Your superbuffed monster can be taken out in a moment when this card is played. Your only saving grace is that this card isn't targetable and will take down the strongest unit regardless of which side of the battlefield it's on.

3. Lacerate

  • Ability: Remove 3 Strength from all non-Gold units on a row.

Your opponent stacking one row with all his units? Take them all down by 3 strength each with Lacerate. This a great counter for the common tactic of piling everything on to a single row if a weather effect won't work.

4. Ragh Nar Roog

  • Ability: Spawn Frost, Fog, and Rain effects.

So let's talk about the weather. Every row can have a weather effect cast on it which drops the strength of all the units there to 1 until that dispelled. Ragh Nar Roog drops weather effects on all three rows at once. Brutal, but remember that weather effects activate on both sides of the battlefield.

5. Caranthir

  • Strength: 8
  • Row: Melee/Loyal
  • Ability: Immune to Frost. Spawn a Frost effect and 2 Wild Hunt Hounds.

So what do you do when you've crippled your opponent with weather effects, but have deluged your own side of the board as well with fury of the elements? Lay down units that are immune to weather effects, of course. Caranthir is a particularly strong choice not only for his immunity, but he spawns a weather effect plus two immune units as well.

6. Geralt: Igni

  • Strength: 6
  • Row: Any row/Loyal
  • Ability: Destroy the strongest non-Gold unit(s) on the opposite row if that row totals 20 or more strength.

Weather effects and Lacerate aren't the only way to deal with opponents stacking all their units on one row. Geralt: Igni can be played on any row and he will destroy the strongest non-Gold unit on the opponent's corresponding row if that row has units whose total strength exceeds 20. Which is a low bar in this game.

7. Draug

  • Strength: 8
  • Row: Melee/Loyal
  • Ability: Destroy all non-Gold unit(s) with 3 Strength or lower.

Draug can be tricky as he will destroy all of your units with 3 strength or lower as well as your opponent's, but if you build a strong monster deck around him and you face a zoo deck, it will pay off in spades.

8. Dimeritium Bomb

  • Ability: Reset all units on the battlefield to their base strength.

The big reset button, this spell strips the buffs and debuffs from all the units on the battlefield. This can both bring your opponent's strength down if he has been buffing and shoot yours back up if he's been actively debuffing yours. A must have in almost every deck. Just makes sure you'll end up ahead when the reset lands.

9. Commander's Horn

  • Ability: Double the strength of all non-Gold units on a row on your side then remove from the game.

I've been talking a lot about attacking and debuffing your opponent, but there are many cards that will help buff and protect your units. Commander's Horn can turn around almost any match by doubling the strength of all of your non-Gold units as long as your opponent doesn't negate it with the aforementioned Dimeritium Bomb.

10. Barclay Els

  • Strength: 5
  • Row: Siege/Loyal
  • Ability: Add 1 Strength to all your other Dwarf units, wherever they are.

The keystone to a killer dwarf deck, Barclay Els buffs all other dwarf cards by 1. And not just the dwarf cards on the battlefield, but the ones in your hand and in your deck. A huge buff across the board in an all dwarf deck.

11. Vesemir/Eskel/Lambert

  • Strength: 7
  • Row: Melee/Loyal
  • Ability: Play Eskel and Lambert from your deck.

When you play one of these three units, the other two are automatically put onto the battlefield from your deck. That's 21 strength on the battlefield in one round. Not bad, though make sure to protect that row.

This is just a taste of some of the most powerful cards in Gwent. The game is still in beta and constantly evolving. But you can see the trends here. Cards that take advantage of weather effects. Cards that call on other cards. Cards that nullify more powerful units. When the game goes live in 2017 expect to see even crazier cards to be included in the list.

Are you excited for Gwent?


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