So you want to play Gwent? Then you’ve come to the right place! The purpose of this guide is to act as a useful beginner’s guide to the poorly explained aspects of Gwent, some of which are quite important to game. It will also hopefully clear up any common hesitation/anxiety about the first steps of playing Gwent. If you have questions, for example, about how deck building works, deciphering card anatomy, or what the Arena mode is, you’ll find answers here. This guide will be updated over time as more changes come to the game, accounting for any major relevant changes like gameplay mechanics. In addition, the goal is to slowly build up to what will be the ultimate beginner’s guide, complete with images and videos too.
The hope is that this guide will answer nearly all questions a beginner may have, thus helping them spend less time confused and more time enjoying the game. This guide assumes you have played the tutorial. While I’ll go over aspects of gameplay, I won’t be outright teaching how to play for total newcomers, as the tutorial does that. In terms of advanced gameplay there is a section that goes over ‘playing properly’, covering topics like mulligans, round progression, etc.
Table of Contents
Should I try Gwent?
This is a beginner’s guide but inevitably someone is going to read this, wondering if they should even start playing Gwent. So here’s my quick blurb for those who are simply just wondering if Gwent is worth trying.
Low difficulty to learn, but plenty of depth: Gwent is one of the easier card games to get into. For example, the structure is super simple. Each player may only play one card per turn, and you win rounds by having more points than the opponent. That dramatically makes things easier. No need to worry about insane card combos that’ll keep your head spinning, and no complicated math required. That said, while it’s easy to learn, it can take quite a while to master, so there is depth too.
The depth/strategy aspect of Gwent is fairly different however. Some may prefer the classic style (think Magic the Gathering) of card games and their complexities, which can get pretty crazy. However, the burden of knowledge is lessened in Gwent compared to some other games, which some players may like better. On the other hand, building decks and understanding mechanics can be considered easier in other card games compared to Gwent. For example, some playstyles in other card games allow for simple decks that revolve around easy concepts, such as ‘aggro’ decks concerned with simply hitting the opponent’s life total relentlessly and quickly. In Gwent, deck building is a bit more complicated since there’s no real concept of ‘rushing’ a win, and existing deck archetypes that are used in other card games may not apply to Gwent. Other mechanics like worrying about card draws and dealing with multiple rounds, is also more important in Gwent than other games.
Wallet friendly: Gwent is among one of the most economically friendly games I’ve played. Rewards are generous in Gwent – like, very surprisingly generous. In addition, they handle it in a way that’s more interesting than most games, thanks to the Reward Book which gives a sense of progression, but also gives you agency in your rewards (since you can see what unlocks are available, therefore allowing you to pick which ones you want). To add to that, when opening card packs you actually get a choice when it comes to your guaranteed “rare” (Uncommon/Epic/Legendary) per pack, as you’ll get to choose 1 of 3 options each time. This again gives you agency and makes it easier to get the cards you want, while making the randomness of card packs a bit less debilitating.
In addition, card crafting costs are pretty sensible, and many of the useful or ‘must have’ cards are actually on the cheaper end. The pressure to spend hundreds of dollars doesn’t ever loom, which is amazing. Overall, this is a very free to play (F2P) friendly game.
Single player experiences worth paying for: Most card games don’t offer much in the way of single player experiences. Maybe some expansions here or there to give you interesting challenges, but they’re usually nothing too memorable.
CDPR completely flips the table with Thronebreaker, a spin-off game from their Witcher game series (not related / canon to the novels). Thronebreaker is a very well reviewed single player RPG that uses Gwent gameplay for various scenarios, and is probably the greatest example of turning a card game into a great RPG.
Note: The Steam version cannot connect to GOG, and thus does not grant Gwent cards and bonuses you normally get with Thronebreaker on GOG.
Disadvantages: Gwent is currently only available on PC, PS4, and XBONE. This means no Mac or mobile at the time of writing. It also has a smaller population of players compared to other card games out there, at least anecdotally. In addition it lacks clarity in several areas, which this guide aims to help with.
Simply put, there’s no harm in trying Gwent out if you’re on the fence, since it’s free.
1) I’ve just finished the tutorial. What now?
Overview of Game Modes
So you’ve played the tutorial and got just a tiny taste of what Gwent offers. You sort of know the basic of the basics, like the general structure of the gameplay (each person takes turns playing a card, stuff happens, get more points to win).
You’re now free to explore the whole game. What now?
- Constructed modes (Ranked and Casual)
- Arena mode
- Deck Builder (not a mode, but as the name implies you create decks here)
Well, like most card games, there are a few things to explore. The most obvious is to simply play Ranked or Casual matches. These are referred to as constructed modes, meaning that players select a deck before playing (in other words, they use decks that they have constructed, so to speak). More info on how deck building works can be found just a bit later.
In constructed modes, you simply select an available deck from your own list of decks, then wait until you’re matched up with another player. Casual has no real consequences and restrictions are lessened – anyone can play them, and you don’t have to worry about competitive progression. In addition, Casual mode still counts towards completing Daily Quests. An unfortunate side effect is that due to less restrictions, it can be easier to get mismatched against higher level players who often use Casual to test out new decks (and still be difficult for a beginner to beat).
Ranked is a more ‘serious’ mode where players compete to climb up the ‘ladder’. You select a deck, then wait until matched with someone that is relatively close to your rank. Winning a lot of games will progress you to higher ranks, while losing repeatedly will make you lose ranks if you’re at a higher rank (it’s far less punishing to lose at lower ranks however – the early levels you cannot even lose ranks!). Some like to play for the competitiveness and the attempts at being number 1, otherwise just want to play against successful/serious decks. Whatever your reason, Ranked is available right away and there is little reason to be scared of it as there is plenty of leeway for new players, and in fact may be more welcoming for newer players due to the restrictions in place
Arena mode plays differently, as decks are built through choosing from various selections of random cards, rather than by conventional means. Players then must then face off against other Arena opponents, with the goal of reaching 9 match wins before getting 3 losses. This means each Arena experience is different as every person playing it will have impossible combinations of cards not available in constructed modes. A more in-depth explanation for Arena mode can be found in the upcoming Arena guide.
Thronebreaker is a surprisingly large single player game that has been critically praised by many, and is essentially a world map RPG (you control a character and wander around various locations on a map) with Gwent gameplay for various scenarios. In classic Witcher style, there are various decisions and dialogue options that will have consequences, giving you quite a bit of agency over the story. As a bonus, Thronebreaker comes with unlockable cards that you can use in Gwent. These cards can also be crafted, but are currently far more expensive to craft, due to a sort of limited exclusivity reason. These will likely drop to normal crafting requirements later on (not confirmed, just a guess based on common card game trends)
Please note that the Steam version of Thronebreaker does not come with various bonuses the GOG version does, including Gwent cards and other goodies.
Thronebreaker is considered a ‘Witcher Tale’, meaning a spin-off story set in the Witcher game series CDPR has created. It is not related / canon to the novels, and there could potentially be more Witcher tales in the future.
The focus of this guide is the multiplayer Gwent game. As a beginner, you’re probably wanting to get to the ‘meat’ of almost all card games, which is building a deck and playing it. The Deck Builder is where all the magic of deck building happens.
2) Okay so I understand what’s in the game. How do I acquire resources to get cards, and then build decks?
The tutorial briefly covers this, but you’ll be rewarded with resources to acquire new cards over time, and then you can go into the Deck Builder to create decks.
In order to get into the details of deck building however, you first need to actually gain resources, which means you’re going to need to start playing.
But I’m new. How do I play when I don’t have any cards?
Starting from the bottom: What starter deck to use and what to do as a newbie
I know telling you to play immediately seems scary, but trust me – it’ll make it easier to learn and make it far more fun than reading up on how deck building works, and then realizing you can’t even build one yet. While finishing the tutorial gives a taste of rewards, a single card pack isn’t enough to get started really. Obviously if you’re past this stage feel free to skip to how cards and deck building work.
To get started, face off against the AI. Go to Casual and do Practice. Play as many matches as you need to get used to Gwent’s gameplay and interface. Since you don’t have to worry as much about timers and stuff, take your time to learn. Any time you don’t understand a keyword, right click the card and learn.
Once you’re able to beat the AI a couple of times or at least feel you have a bit more of an understanding, I recommend to simply queue up in Casual or Ranked matches. Note that either Casual or Ranked matches will count towards completing Daily Quests, which helps with progression. For best results in terms of learning as well as grinding resources, I recommend using the Monster starter deck or the Skellige starter deck. 18 out of 25 cards are the same in every starter deck, so there isn’t a large difference between all the starter decks. However, these two factions’ starter leaders have easy to learn and easy to use leader powers. In addition, their powers are far more useful in beginner vs beginner matchups, and can help teach some important basics regarding game mechanics
Plus, their starter decks have a tiny bit more synergy than the other starter decks. Not a great amount, but better than nothing. Both decks force you to also learn about graveyard interactions. If you don’t fancy Monsters, Skellige starter is your next best bet as they feature some damage interactions – which can still be fun and helpful for learning.
For the purposes of learning, don’t bother too much with the other faction starter decks except to complete Daily Quests – I personally found them lacking and more frustrating than useful for learning (they don’t teach as well and tend to be easier to lose with). However, once you start getting cards and can slightly tweak these decks, the other factions may become less frustrating over time.
As I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of cards in each starter deck are actually the same. Thus, you won’t actually learn much about Faction differences from playing these decks. More information about the differences between the playable Factions can be found later in this guide although this is not important until you start crafting decks
If you are unlucky and find you’re against experienced players with good decks in Casual matches, do not be afraid to just jump into Ranked matches. In fact, since Ranked matches would restrict you against opponents who are also at the bottom of the ladder, sometimes this makes life easier as a newcomer. Note that there are no consequences – low ranks (26-30) don’t lose ranks for losing, so you have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.
As a side note, Arena is also great for learning but it’s not good to start off on that immediately, at least until you have a bit more experience. More information on Arena can be found in an upcoming guide.
Do not worry about playing ‘properly’ – you still need to get used to the game after all. I have a whole section in on advanced gameplay advice that you can skip to if you’re still worried, but overall trial and error on your own for the first couple matches will help you from getting information overload.
3) Okay so I’ve played some matches. How do resources work, and how do they allow me to build a deck?
The reward system in Gwent is a little more larger in scope than most games. There are a few different resources you can see at the top right of the main menu:
- Ore: Looks like a gray rock. This is the main currency of the game. It is used for buying Kegs (card packs) or Mirror Shards (Arena passes). You gain it from playing the game and winning matches, completing Daily Quests, completing Arena runs, and through unlocks in the Reward Book. It is the most commonly awarded resource.
- Scraps: Looks like colourful paper scraps in the shape of a card. This is the resource used to craft cards. Scraps are spent on crafting new cards for your collection. You can gain Scraps as rewards through multiplayer games, milling cards (destroying cards you own), and as rewards from the Reward Book. It is accrued more slowly than Ore.
- Meteorite Powder: Looks like blue powder in a bag. Powder is the main currency for cosmetic goods. It is used to transmute a normal card you own into a Premium card, and can also be spent on cosmetic bundles (including different board skins) in the shop. It is mostly gained as a rare reward from gameplay and the Reward Book.
Ore is the primary currency of the game. You’ll be rewarded this practically all the time from doing almost anything in the game, and then you can spend ore on actual stuff.
It is possible to spend real money to receive Kegs and Powder.
Getting new cards: Card packs? Choices in card packs? Crafting?
Note: For the sake of guide flow, card anatomy and explanation is in the deck building section right after this. To maximize your chances of selecting the best cards in kegs, be sure to read the card explanation section.
You can get cards from either opening Kegs (card packs), or by directly crafting desired cards.
Opening card packs, like any other card game, leaves a lot up to chance. Each keg gives you 5 cards, with at least 1 guaranteed to be Rare or higher. In general, high rarity cards are far rarer to receive, so expect a lot of Commons. Don’t worry, I explain card rarities and types later.
It’s fairly easy to get the necessary 100 ore to buy a keg, so it’s something you can do repeatedly over time.
Unlike most games, the guaranteed rare in each keg is actually a choice – it will display 3 options of the same rarity that you got by chance, and you get to pick one to keep. This makes it a bit easier to get the cards you like. If you have anxiety over these choices, fret not – just simply pick the coolest looking cards to you. Most of the cards you receive will be Bronze cards, including the ones you are given a choice for. Due to their lower rarities, you can expect to get these far more often.
If you get lucky and receive a choice of Gold cards (which is not often), this is where it is a little bit tricky. Due to the rarity of receiving these cards by luck, you’ll want to think about which card you’re more likely to be excited about using, as they can help you form a deck you want to play or help you experiment with new decks. If you’re still unsure, go with a card that provides value without too many conditions (e.g doesn’t require a deck full of synergies to just use it). It’s also worth considering Neutral rare cards as they are less restricted since any faction may use them.
Alternatively, you can directly craft a card you want by spending Scraps. Scraps are attained at a slower rate, but allow you to skip leaving things up to chance by simply making the card outright for your collection. Scrap costs of each card can be viewed in the Deck Builder by right clicking a card and reading the numbers near the bottom. You’ll see that crafting a card will cost -X Scraps.
Rarity affects Scrap cost, as more rarer cards cost more to craft. Common cards can cost a very small amount (30), but Legendary cards can go up to 800. Note that some cards may be time limited to cost 4x the amount (so up to 3200 scrap), as is the case for some cards that can be unlocked from playing Thronebreaker.
Remember that Premium versions cannot be crafted with Scrap, and instead requires transmuting a standard card with Meteorite Powder.
Milling cards will destroy them permanently from your collection, generating Scrap (you’ll see +Y Scraps) from their demise (as well as powder if it’s a Premium card). This is especially useful if you happen to have more copies of the same card than can be used in a deck (remember, you only need 1 copy of each Gold card and at most 2 copies of each Bronze card in your collection).
Milling cards generally grants far less Scrap than it takes to craft them (usually 4x less, or 25% of its crafting cost). Sometimes, if cards are changed through new patches, the developers may decide to allow partial mill value refunds on them. This means that some cards may temporarily grant more Scrap upon milling than normal, although this is expected to be a rare occurrence.
What the heck are Bronze and Gold cards? What are card rarities?
The explanation for these are in the deck building section below! I just had to explain how card packs work in one section so I don’t spread out info all over the place.
Slow down, what is a Reward Book? What are Contracts? What should I unlock first?
The tutorial covers this briefly, but the Reward Book is a cool, consistent way to receive rewards. As you receive Reward Points from completing Contracts and winning matches, you may spend them to unlock nodes in the Reward Book.
Each Faction, as well as each Faction Leader, has a ‘tree’ comprised of multiple nodes. You may spend your Reward Points as you please to unlock more and more things. The rewards will vary (resources, kegs, cards, etc.) but you can see what’s in a tree and decide which paths to take and what to unlock first.
I highly recommend unlocking Faction nodes first, before the leaders. Faction trees offer more useful stuff for newcomers, such as tangible rewards. Most importantly, they allow you to unlock new leaders for your collection, without spending a huge amount of Scrap to get them. All the base game leaders generally require 10 Reward Points each to unlock (this is the total cost to unlock them through the necessary nodes, not the individual cost alone) although depending on the nodes already unlocked some may require less. Leader trees tend to offer more specific rewards for that leader specifically, like cosmetics. However, each leader tree differs and it is possible to get good value depending on what you’re after, so don’t be afraid of putting a few points here or there in different leader trees. For example, you can get a few kegs for only 6 reward points at the start of Filavandrel’s tree.
Future leaders added to the game later will cost slightly more Reward Points at 15 Reward Points each. Also note that while leaders can be crafted with Scrap like any other card, it is generally more efficient/less expensive to unlock them with Reward Points.
Contracts are essentially in-game achievements. There are contracts for almost everything you do in the game, whether it be winning matches, playing certain cards, and even sending GG’s to opponents and taunting/emoting with your leader at least once per match!
This means when you’re new to the game, you’ll be unlocking Reward Points at a fast pace. It’ll feel very good, but be aware that this will obviously slow down as the Contracts, like level-ups, start getting more difficult over time (ex., after playing 10 matches, you’ll need to play 100, and then 1000, etc.). The wide diversity of Contracts means it can be rewarding to play all kinds of different cards over your career too (e.g doing stuff with keywords like Deathwish and Order cards).
Later on there will be Seasonal reward trees. As the name implies these will be time limited trees that will likely act as incentives for playing the game more. However there has been no info on how these will work, including if they’ll use separate Reward Points/currency or not.
4) Okay, so I understand how resources work and how to obtain new cards. How does deck building work? How do card rarities work? Card types?
What’s the big deal with cards?
One of the biggest aspects the tutorial does not teach is how deck building works. But first, you’ll need to know how the cards themselves are categorized.
Cards are divided into two major categories: Bronze, and Gold. You can tell what a card type is by looking at the border of each card; it’ll either be Bronze or Gold coloured. The card type is important in deck building.
Every single card is also assigned a rarity type/colour, similar to other card games. The rarities stand for Common (Gray), Rare (Blue), Epic (Purple), and Legendary (Orange). You may identify a card’s rarity by looking at the top left corner of each card – you’ll see a small gem coloured one of the above colours.
The vast majority of Common and Rare cards happen to be Bronze type cards, with Epics and Legendaries more commonly being assigned the Gold type.
Rarities generally denote cool factor and interesting gameplay effects, but are not necessarily always essential – just because a card is Legendary doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be useful for you. Rarer cards generally tend to have cooler, more varied effects however.
When it comes to opening Kegs (card packs), there is a far lower chance of receiving high rarity cards (Legendaries obviously being the rarest).
As for aesthetics, cards come in standard form, and Premium form. Premium cards are this game’s version of ‘foil’ or ‘shiny’ cards. They are animated and have sound that plays when you inspect a card with right click. These cards appear animated for all players in a match when they are used. Functionally, they are the exact same as their standard counterpart – they simply just look cooler and breathe life into otherwise normal cards. Premium cards generally cost double to craft than standard cards, and tend to be far rarer to receive from Kegs.
How does deck building work?
Decks in Gwent must be built with a few restrictions in mind.
Every deck must have:
- A minimum of 25 cards (you can go higher, but this is not recommended)
- Must be within your chosen leader’s maximum Provision cap
- Cannot have more than 1 copy of each Gold card, and no more than 2 copies of each Bronze card
- May only use Neutral cards as well as cards belonging to that leader’s Faction
Every card has a number in the bottom right corner while inside the Deck Builder (for some reason Provision Cost is not available during gameplay). You can easily see this in the Deck Builder by right clicking individual cards.
This number is the Provisions cost. Provision costs restricts decks from being completely bonkers as you cannot exceed your deck’s maximum Provision cap, which varies with each leader (lowest being 160 cap). The Provision cap is shown when creating a deck with a leader chosen. Alternatively you can view each leader card individually by right clicking them, and adding their listed Provision bonus on the left of the card, with 150. For example, Eredin has a Provision cap of 150 + 15 = 165.
There are several cards that have high Provision costs, which is why decks often need to balance out the need for cool, strong Gold cards with multiple low cost Bronze cards. In addition, only one copy of each Gold card may be added, and no more than two copies of each Bronze card can be added. This means Gold cards are unique in your deck, and the only way to replay them or gain multiple copies in a match, would be through other means (card effects) during said matches. Meanwhile, since you can have 2 copies of the same Bronze card, it is easier to have multiple Bronze cards.
In general, you’ll need to worry about the Provision costs, as this is the major limiting factor in all decks. Try to shove too many expensive cards in and your deck just won’t be playable – it’s a balancing act after all. In general, stronger cards cost more, e.g, a 4 strength card will cost far less than a 10 strength card. There are exceptions of course, based on the card’s effects.
It should be noted that there is also another hidden categorization of cards, which is what kind of card it is in terms of function.
- Special (Spells)
Units are the most obvious types of cards. Many cards with strength (number near the top left of card) are considered units, and usually represent beings in the world, whether it be soldiers or monsters or something else. These cards can be buffed (boosted) to increase your round score, or damaged/killed to decrease it. They tend to have keywords and can interact with almost any other card. They generally form the core of most decks, as they are usually the most reliable way of increasing one’s score.
Artifact is an official term for cards that often represent weapons and tools. They are usually identified with a gold chalice icon near the top left, where the strength number normally would be. They are not units and often do not provide score – instead, they provide other benefits like being able to damage enemy units. While they do not count as units, they are placed on the board similar to units. They usually cannot be removed unless a card that specifically removes artifacts is used.
Special is an official term, usually used as a general phrase for cards that play an effect but are neither a unit nor artifact placed on the board. Instead of having a number representing strength near the top left, they have a fire icon. Special cards represent things like potions, concepts, events, and magic spells, rather than beings in the world. The alternative term is ‘spells’, which is also an official term. Examples of Special card effects include cards that simply deal damage, summon weather, or spawns units. It just does something, and then it goes to the graveyard. The game has specific categories for various ‘spells’, such as Alchemy and Tactic, for certain interactions.
Note that artifact cards do not count as special cards.
It is not recommended to go over the minimum of 25 cards in a deck. This is because in general, you want to limit the chances of having non-useful cards show up at the wrong time. Given the nature of the game, where card draws are extremely important, filling up your deck with more than 25 cards tends to ‘bloat’ your deck with cards that won’t be useful in said situations. Also most games only draw 16 cards in a match (10 in round 1, 3 in round 2, and, 3 in round 3), so you want to again limit not being able to draw a card you need.
Lastly, cards in a deck can only use Neutral cards as well as Faction specific cards depending on the chosen leader of the deck. For example, a Monster leader means Monster faction cards may be used, but not Nilfgaard faction specific cards. You can tell a card’s faction by the general background colour in of each card, and can sort by factions in the Deck Builder. Neutral cards are a simple brown colour and may be used in any deck.
5) I’ve got a bunch of new cards. What do I do? Also what cards should I craft first?
I highly recommend making small tweaks to the starter decks as soon as possible, as you likely don’t have enough resources to make a completely different deck. You can either edit the starter decks directly, or create a new deck and fill out the base set cards so you can keep the vanilla starter deck as reference.
Replacing some basic cards
When it comes to beginner vs beginner matchups, you pretty much have a good idea of what to expect. You both will have similar boost and damage spell cards, as well as similar units (18 out of 25 cards are the same in each starter deck). Note that all the starter decks are below the max Provisions cost – meaning if you picked up some strong cards, it’s possible to replace weaker cards with more costly cards and still be able to run the deck.
Thus, start replacing some of the weaker cards with stronger cards if the Provision limits allow it. Once you hit the Provision limit, it’s time to start replacing the ‘bad’ cards.
While most of the basic cards are useful (simple boosts or damage, vanilla units but still provide decent strength), one particular card bugs me the most: Talisman. Replace it as soon as possible.
None of the starter decks make good use of Talisman. Since it requires a large board presence, it is only really useful in a Swarm archetype. Even the Monster starter deck which has more synergy with it compared to any other starter deck, finds Talisman lacking. Assuming beginner vs beginner matchups, they’ll have plenty of damage/removal so you can’t get greedy with setting up multiple units on the board with the hopes of making a greedy Talisman play. Thus, most of the time Talisman provides far less score than one would consistently get with another card, and consistency is very important for newer players.
Add in cards that provide value without requiring conditions
A simple way to get more consistency out of these decks is to add in cards that are strong on their own, without necessarily requiring conditions for it. An example is a high strength card that has no abilities – sure, it’s plain, but it gets the job done by giving you a huge amount of points. You’ll notice that a lot of cards that have interesting abilities, tend to have a downside of higher Provision costs and/or lower strength.
So if you happen to unpack some cards that don’t require set ups or conditions, that can be helpful to improve your beginner decks. Then, when you’re able to actually create a deck with synergies, you can go for those more interesting condition-based cards later. Remember leaders affect Provision maximums, and that you can also consider their powers when it comes to adding new cards. For example, if you were lucky enough to pick up a strong Monster or Neutral card that needs to stay alive to gain more value, Eredin could actually make that card work better than others leaders.
There are also cards that appear weak, but in reality are pretty strong. They often also have deceptively simple conditions that are super easy to fulfill, which makes them sort of an exception to the rule I just spoke about. For example, Wolf Pack is one of the better cards in the base set, despite it seeming so weak. It is a 2 strength unit that deals 2 damage on deploy, but only costs 4 Provision cost. Considering almost all cards have higher Provision costs than their strength, this is strong because Wolf Pack is essentially a 4 strength card for 4 cost, rather than a 4 strength card for 5+ cost.
Another example is Archespore, a Monster-exclusive 1 strength unit that deals 2 damage on Deploy, and deals 2 damage as a Deathwish. It also has Thrive, which increases its strength by 1 every time an allied unit is played that has higher strength than it currently has. While it’s weak initially, the 2 damage on Deploy is immediate value, and practically any unit you play afterward makes Archespore stronger, therefore increasing it’s value. If the opponent kills it, or you utilize its Deathwish effect on purpose, you get a bit more damage too. So while on the surface Archspore has a lot of conditions to get value out of it, the conditions are quite easy to fulfill.
That all said though, the above examples don’t necessarily mean they’re the best. It all depends on the situation – late in a round, low strength cards like Wolf Pack and Archespore are probably not what you want to finish off with a point lead.
Keep the Witcher trio (Lambert, Vesemir, and Eskel)
The Witcher trio is currently one of the most efficient cards in the game due to their ability of summoning the other Witchers whenever one is played. This essentially means that you can make a 9 point play for the cost of one card. That is very useful since everyone always has a limited hand, thus it is far better than playing 3 cards to do the same thing. Also it’s the most powerful thing a starter deck can do, so yeah…you might want to keep them. They’re also free since they’re part of the base set cards, so no worries there!
Lastly, they are also ‘deck thinners’, which is explained more later. Basically they help mitigate bad draws in later rounds since they’re all used up at once, meaning your deck is smaller later on. They’re not vital in every deck, but as mentioned before they’re fantastic for beginner decks.
Soon enough, you”ll be essentially building your own decks, even if they still use some basic set cards. Enjoy!
What cards should I craft first?
It’s all up to you. To help you get started here’s a list of cards that you may be interested in. They are not listed in any particular order. Remember that you can only have 1 copy of each Gold card in a deck, but may have up to 2 copies of a Bronze card each.
This list is not a list of ‘must-haves’, but is simply recommendations of cheap cards that I believe can be useful for beginners. Being budget friendly makes it easier to get started, but most importantly they will give you a lot of value for your scraps due to their ease of use and general efficiency in many situations. You do not necessarily need these cards to survive, but they’re strong for such low crafting costs and can serve well in many different decks. Note these cards are Neutral so any deck can use them.
- Frenzied D’ao: 200 Scrap, 8 Provision, 6 Strength Unit, Gold. Relatively cheap for such a good Gold card. This is a powerful card that is worth it even without its ability to destroy artifacts. A must-have, as it’s useful when artifacts are prevalent, and still strong if they don’t have artifacts since it provides a lot of strength. With lack of artifact removal for beginners, I highly recommend having a copy of this card.
- Mastercrafted Spear: 80 Scrap, 7 Provision, Artifact, Bronze. Very cheap Bronze card that can deal 1 damage every turn. This ability means it can provide great value and is usually instrumental in control decks. Most importantly it will easily help you win beginner matchups due to engine value plus lack of artifact removal in beginner matchups.
- Wyvern Scale Shield: 80 scrap, 7 provision, Artifact, Bronze. Similar to Mastercrafted Spear, but instead of dealing 1 damage to something, it can boost a unit by 1 every turn. As with the Spear, it often does well in beginner matchups due to engine value and lack of artifact removal.
- Dimeritium Shackles: 30 Scrap, 5 Provision, Alchemy, Bronze. Incredibly cheap Bronze card that gives beginner decks much needed removal in the form of damage and a much needed Lock effect (Lock a unit and damage it by 3). Great way to stop value targets, and fits into many decks due to low Provision cost.
- Dorregaray of Vole: 200 scrap, 8 Provision, 6 Strength Unit, Gold. A 6 strength unit with a simple Deploy: Lock a Unit ability. Like Frenzied D’ao, it’s a very efficient card. If there’s no good targets to Lock it still provides a lot of strength.
- Cleaver: 200 scrap, 9 Provision, 3 Strength Unit, Gold. 3 strength unit that deals 1 damage for every card in your hand, thus he can deal up to 9 damage. Obviously don’t always want to play him first, but usually your opponents will give you a decent target within the first few turns in. Also great for taking down targets just out of lethal range of Alzur’s Thunder (5 damage).
- Roach: 200 scrap, 9 Provisions, 3 Strength unit, Gold. I don’t consider Roach something you should rush since compared to others, he’s more situational. The horse can be undeniably useful for beginners since he adds to any Gold card play, including the Witcher trio. As mentioned though, don’t rush crafting Roach as he may not fit into all decks.
6) Alright so I’m playing more matches and slowly creating my own decks. How do I grind resources faster?
Daily wins bonus, Daily Quests, and Profile Leveling
Currently, the fastest way to get Ore is through winning matches, completing Daily Quests, and progressing your Reward Book.
As you play, there is a ‘daily wins’ bonus. This can be seen as a ‘x/6’ symbol on the left when you first log in, in your profile, or your post-match screen. The ‘x’ is the number of rounds you’ve won. Every 2 rounds you win gives a small reward, like +15 Ore or Scrap. Once you hit 6 round wins, you receive a larger reward, like 2 Reward Points. Upon reaching 6 wins, the win bonus changes to 0/12, meaning you’ll need to win 12 rounds to get another large reward bonus. If you still play onwards, this can change to x/24 twice, and then I believe that is a hard limit on daily win bonuses. In other words, 6 +12 + 24 + 24.
This ‘daily win bonus’ resets each day, meaning it starts all over again at 0/6 each day. Note that this is round wins, not match wins. This means you really only need to play 3-6 matches a day to meet this requirement.
Unfortunately Arena wins currently do not count towards this daily win bonus. This is pretty much the only thing holding Arena back as the most efficient way of grinding resources, as otherwise it is good for grinding.
Daily Quests pop up daily as well, and offer random ways to get more Ore. It can be anything from playing a bunch of matches, completing an Arena run, playing as certain factions, etc. It’ll always be some sort of task that just requires more playing. Unfortunately to refresh these, you must log in daily – there is no offline stacking, meaning if you don’t play for 3 days and come back, you’ll only come back to one new Daily Quest ready for you – the other two will simply begin their countdown timer upon login.
Of course, progressing your Reward Book offers plenty of rewards. Reward Points are easy to get since almost anything you do in the game progresses various Contracts, which give plentiful rewards since they start off with tiny requirements. Contract completion rates start to slow down later on though as they scale up (ex. play 10 matches becomes play 100, then 1000, etc.), but it is very easy to get 50+ Reward Points within your first week.
Leveling up your profile also grants Reward Points. Playing any kind of match, aside from practicing with AI, grants experience towards your profile level.
Aside from Daily Wins as a consistent way to get resources, probably the next most efficient way of grinding resources is through Arena mode…if you can consistently win, that is. More information about Arena can be found in an upcoming guide.
7) What are the differences between the Factions?
While each Faction doesn’t limit general deck archetypes (Ex. Nothing is stopping you from playing cards based around buffs, no matter what faction, for example), some Faction specific cards and Leaders go better with some strategies than others.
In addition, each Faction has general trends and keywords that feel ‘exclusive’ to them. These may not be entirely exclusive, but many of their cards carry certain keywords, or utilize certain mechanics more than others, thus lending uniqueness to each faction’s potential with various strategies. For example, many Monster cards utilize Deathwish and Consume keywords more than any other faction.
Monsters (Red): Monsters represent the natural (and unnatural) world of the Witcher series, often representing beasts and species that don’t bow to the general rules of civilization.
- Thrive: Keyword. Increase unit’s strength whenever another allied unit of higher power is played.
- Deathwish: Keyword. When unit dies, trigger an effect usually beneficial for you.
- Consume: Keyword. Unit destroys a targeted allied unit, and increases its own power based on the strength of the destroyed unit. Sometimes referred to as ‘sacrifice’ in other games, where one destroys their own units for gain.
- Swarm: Not a keyword. This refers to a strategy of creating multiple, usually weak units en masse. In many card games, these weak masses can be referred to as ‘tokens’, or token units.
- Supremacy: Not a keyword, but an unofficial term used to describe triggering effects when you play something while you have the biggest unit on the board.
Monsters generally like to play focused on putting out units, rather than controlling threats with damage/spells. Their strategies often involve utilizing their ‘exclusive’ keywords together.
Thrive allows otherwise weak units to gain value over time. Deathwish can punish opponents who try to kill your units. Consume can be a way to easily trigger your own Deathwish effects (especially since opponents don’t to kill your Deathwish units outright) to gain even more value, while also maintaining your point score. Swarm refers to how some Monster specific cards/effects can produce multiple units at a time, and this can help play into the above keywords (ex. gives you Consume targets) and maintain point leads. Lastly, Supremacy, while not an official term, describes units who have abilities that can be triggered if you already have the highest strength unit on the board – very few of these kinds of cards are non-Monster cards, if any.
Their leaders focus on these trends and have very simple-to-use powers. Eredin Bréacc Glas has an ability that allows you to boost a unit by 3 strength and make it immune once per match. This can be used to help keep the target safe so you can exploit card effects while they’re present. An example is using Eredin’s ability to protect Ge’els so all your next cards can trigger Deathwish abilities by simply being played. Other examples include protecting cards like Imlerith and Yennefer: Conjurer to maintain strong control over the board.
Arachas Queen pairs very nicely with Swarm decks, as her ability is passively spawning a 1 strength unit (‘tokens’) whenever an allied unit is destroyed during your turn. You can then use these tokens to help fuel Consume cards, and use cards that are effective when you have a lot of units on the board. For example she pairs nicely with cards that can create or destroy a lot of units at once, such as Arachas Nest, Forktail, and Glustyworp. Cards that work well with lots of units on the board, like Golden Froth, also work well with her.
Woodland Spirit simply boosts a card in your hand by 8 once per match, handy for point leads or to maintain Supremacy effects. For example he is great with practically any Wild Hunt cards which rely on Surpremacy, but he may also be used to help win rounds with decks that are made to win through sheer score leads in drawn out rounds. A common deck combination with Woodland Spirit often involves high strength cards like Old Speartip and Golyat, with other cards like Ozzrel and Ghoul, effectively double dipping on high strength cards and using the leader ability to help win matches.
Lastly, Unseen Elder allows for multiple Deathwish triggers over the course of a match without actually killing said Deathwish units. Examples of strong Deathwish card effects include Imperial Manticore and Miruna.
If you like focusing on units and winning through might and destruction, whether it be through amassing ‘tokens’, reigning Supremacy over your opponents, or sacrificing your own units to make gains, Monsters may be for you. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re lacking cards the Monster starter deck is one of the better starter decks to use, alongside the Skellige starter.
Skellige (Purple): Skellige are human islanders native to large islands far away from the mainland. While their territory size seems tiny compared to the other human civilizations, surprisingly enough they have yet to be conquered (not that others haven’t tried). This is due to the warring nature, as they are similar to Vikings of real life lore, finding glory in combat and plunder. If others won’t bring battles to them, they will raid the mainland in search of combat themselves.
- Bloodthirst: Keyword. Status that triggers an effect if the condition of a number of damaged enemy units is present, e.g Bloodthirst 3 means three damaged enemy units must be present on the board to activate that particular Bloodthirst.
- ‘When damaged’ / Self-wound: Skellige often features many effects that damage themselves. While this seems counterintuitive, this can often activate more powerful effects or allow strong interactions, since many Skellige cards do things if they are damaged. In addition, many cards also have strong effects against damaged enemy units (not just Bloodthirst), such as one card (Vabjorn) being able to kill a damaged unit regardless of how high strength that unit is.
- Discard: Keyword. Move a card from your hand to the graveyard. Skellige cards tend to feature cards that use discard. While it seems counter intuitive to lose cards, often times they make it up by being able to play/draw another card and to gain powerful effects.
- Resurrection: Not a keyword, and not exclusive to Skellige (thought they have more instances of using this mechanic). Refers to ‘reviving’ or playing cards from your graveyard.
- Warriors: Warriors are a unit type or ‘tribe’ (‘tribe’ is a term used in card games to refer to collective set of unit types) most exclusive to Skellige, as they have far more Warriors than any other Faction. They have some cards that provide effects when Warriors are present.
Skellige thematically loves berserk destruction, even if it hurts themselves. As such, they have cards to work well with damaged allies and enemies alike. They can even discard cards to gain benefits! This can be great to cycle through your own deck to get what you need. Due to this theme of working with damaged units, they often have ways of inflicting the pain to units regardless of allegiance. Not to be held back by elimination, they also have ways to reuse units that have been sent to the graveyard. In addition, they have Warriors as a unique ‘tribe’. Some unique cards/strategies for Skellige is a card that swaps your entire graveyard with your entire deck, or cards that are boosted based on cards that are in the graveyard.
Their leaders fit their overall theme pretty well. Harald the Cripple (split 8 damage randomly to all enemy units once per match) and Crach an Craite (damage a unit by 1, with a cooldown) both offer ways of just dealing damage straight up, although Crach is more flexible since he has the option of specific targeting as well as the option to damage your own unit. Examples of these powers in play include combining Harald’s ability with Dagur Two Blades for a huge score change (enemy takes 8 damage while Dagur is boosted by 8), and using Crach’s ability to help activate any Bloodthirst card.
Meanwhile, Eist Tuirseach (play a Warrior from your graveyard) and Bran Tuirseach (can discard a card, then draw a card once per round – also passively damages a random enemy by 1 whenever you discard) offer ways to play with deck cycling and reusing previously used cards. An example for Eist is to combine his power with a card like Hjalmar an Craite (Banish a unit in your graveyard and damage an enemy by its power) to play him twice and potentially deal tons of damage in the process. A Bran example is combining his power with Tuirseach Skirmisher (When this unit is discarded, summon it from your graveyard to the melee row) to get a lot of value, as the card that is discarded comes into play instead.
If you like the idea of dealing damage to literally everything (including yourself), want to get tricky with getting benefits from graveyard cards, want to use discard effects for good deck cycling, or just feel like having a bunch of Viking-esque Warriors in a deck, Skellige may be for you. As mentioned earlier, if you have no cards, the Skellige starter deck is one of the better starter decks alongside Monsters’ starter.
Scoia’Tael (Green): Scoia’Tael represents various non-human races fighting against discrimination from usually humans. Long ago, non-human races like Elves used to rule the Continent, until humans drove them to near extinction. Driven out of their lands and left to die, those who would rather fight until their last breath join the Scoia’Tael, for they have very little left to lose. In Gwent, they are mostly comprised of Elves, Dwarves, and Dryads.
- Ambush: Keyword. Scoia’Tael have access to Ambush cards. These are played facedown, meaning the opponent does not know what card it is. These Ambush cards often flip up and trigger effects in reaction to something the opponent does on their turn, such as when they play a card or pass a turn. Otherwise, the Scoia’Tael player may choose to manually flip a facedown card up on their turn, to produce a lesser effect (such as less damage).
- Traps/Artifacts: Not a keyword, although artifacts is a type of card. Ambush cards often set up minefields for your opponents to figure out, as they need to guess what Ambush cards you played and then react accordingly to minimize problems for themselves. However, Ambush cards also count as artifacts, so certain interactions with other cards are made possible.
- Resilience: Keyword. Status where the unit will remain on the board and carry over to the next round if left alive at round end, and will reset back to base power if it was boosted. There are currently only three unit cards that utilize Resilience, and all of them are Scoia’Tael exclusive. There is one Neutral card that can grant Resilience to any unit, however. While there aren’t many Resilience cards at the moment, it can be useful as a way to start later rounds with an advantage. Note that some players refer to “Resilience” as a general term for any card that can last into future rounds, but don’t necessarily use the Resilience keyword (for example, Phoenix is a card that can come back from the Graveyard in future rounds).
- Buffs / Handbuffs: Not a keyword, and not exclusive to Scoia’Tael, but is a general term interchangeable with boosts. Many Scoia’Tael units can play effects when boosted, or benefit from being boosted. For example, some units have an effect that is triggered if the said unit is already boosted. In addition Scoia’Tael have the most ‘handbuff’ effects in the game, where something can boost cards in your current hand.
- Row Movement: While not exclusive to Scoa’Tael, the faction features more row movement effects than any other faction. This refers to effects that move a unit to a different position on the board. This can be used in combination with cards that have additional benefits when cards are moved, or to manipulate the board to set up traps or spells.
- Unit Types (Elf, Dwarf, and Dryad): Some cards benefit from, or play additional effects based on the presence of certain unit types, such as Elf, Dwarf, and Dryad. The unit types (or card subtypes) are sometimes referred to as ‘tribal’ in other card games. While not entirely exclusive to Scoia’tael, they have by far the most Elf, Dwarf, and Dryad units in this faction.
True to the thematics of the faction, Scoia’Tael fighters can set up guerilla-style ambushes for their prey. They are the only faction to have access to Ambush cards which can really put a damper on your opponent’s play. In addition, one can set up artifact synergies with these traps, since they count as artifacts. Otherwise, Scoia’Tael also favour buff synergies, where they want to set up units who are good with buffs due to additional effects. Some cards play strong effects if they’re already boosted, so using handbuff cards can be useful. Movement manipulation is also a handy mechanic for Scoia’Tael as they feature cards that can benefit from this (ex. Deal free damage whenever an enemy is moved), and can also be used to set up traps or spells. They also have several cards that care about unit types, or ‘tribes’, allowing players to craft thematic decks built around Elves, Dwarves, and Dryads. Lastly, while Resilience is currently a barely used keyword due to low number of cards that utilize it (also expensive provision costs), it can serve as a way to gain an advantage in later rounds, since it’s basically playing a card for free next round…so long as it survives in the first place.
Scoia’Tael leaders are quite flexible, not necessarily being built around their faction ‘traits’. While most of their powers are not necessarily ‘simple-to-use’, they are very versatile powers.
Filavrandel offers the simplest power: A once-per-match boost to all units in hand, which means obvious synergy with buff cards. Examples of cards that benefit from already being boosted include Mahakam Defender and Elven Wardancer.
Others like Francesca (play a Special card from your graveyard) and Brouver Hoog (move an allied or enemy unit to a different row and boost/damage them) offer unique abilities that can play well into different strategies/archetypes entirely. Francesca for example can be used to replay a previously used spell cards, with some powerful examples including Ragh Nar Roog, Royal Decree, and Scorch. Brouver can be simply used for value plays, such as combining his power with cards like Vrihedd Brigade and Vrihedd Dragoon. Brouver may also be used to help set up row-specific conditions or effects, like throwing multiple units into the same row and then playing a card that deals damage to that row, such as Ragh Nar Roog.
Lastly Eithné is a flexible leader thanks to her simple yet versatile power having a limited amount of charges to spend on dealing one damage to a target (referred to as ‘pings’). She currently has 4 charges of 1 damage pings. This power has been severely nerfed compared to the early days, but to counterbalance this she provides the highest Provision cap of 169 in a deck. Her ability can be great for helping to win by point leads, but is also extremely flexible in that it can help destroy key detrimental units and set up any number of conditions needed for better results when it comes to certain spells or combos. In other words, Eithne’s ability can be used to gain more value out of other cards. For example, her 1 damage pings can be instrumental in helping set up cards like Scorch or Yennefer: Conjurer so multiple units are affected instead of just one. Or you can use her damage to help set up engines, such as bringing a target low enough for Sihil to kill it and thus become more powerful. It can even be used on your own units to help solve problems – for example, you can use Eithne’s ability to kill a Cow Carcass that was thrown on your side of the field by an enemy Rot Tosser, thus preventing the Cow Carcass from destroying a valuable unit.
If you like the idea of setting up logistical minefields for your opponent through facedown Ambush cards, like playing around with ‘tribe’ units/themes, like playing with buff cards, or just want some flexible leaders for various strategies, Scoia’Tael may be for you.
Northern Realms (Blue): Northern Realms (NR) are represented as various human states located in the north. Their borders are always changing due to constant strife and rivalry amongst themselves, however this has made the Nordlings a strong hardy people. When it comes to uniting against a common foe, they are powerful, but it won’t be long before the Northern Realms once again start fighting among themselves after the threat is gone. Various non-humans live as second class citizens here, and Nilfgaard has partially conquered some areas in the past.
- Orders / Charges: Keywords. Not exclusive to NR, but they use these more often than any other faction. Some Order abilities can be used repeatedly on a cooldown, while other Order abilities are limited based on the number of Charges available (ex. 2 charges means you can use that Order ability 2 more times). NR tend to have cards that interact with Charges, whether simply increasing them or doing stuff based on the number of charges available.
- Zeal: Keyword. Not exclusive to NR but they use it more often. Zeal allows a unit to use its Order immediately, instead of having to wait a turn before being able to use it. NR cards can give Zeal to units, allowing one to do special effects before giving opponents a chance to react to it.
- Duel: Keyword. There is only one card in the game that currently uses this: Seltkirk of Gule. When Seltkirk uses his Order ability to duel an enemy card, they take turns dealing damage (their strength number) to each other until one of the cards dies, although Seltkirk deals his damage first (so he will always win if he duels someone with the same strength or less than he does). It’s basically a different form of damage/removal, and this one Duel card is currently an NR exclusive unit.
- Machines: While not exclusive to NR, they have the most Machine type units, and these often use Order abilities that require Charges, and benefit from Zeal.
- Soldiers: Also not exclusive to NR, but they certainly have a lot of Soldier types. NR cards tend to have effects that benefit from using Soldier types.
- Specters: There are not too many Specter types in the game, but almost all of them belong to NR. There are some powerful interactions exclusive to Specter types.
Northern Realms (NR) tend to favour trends involving using units with Orders. Several Order abilities require Charges to continue doing what they do, and Zeal allows them to do stuff immediately instead of normally waiting a turn. Likewise, multiple NR cards can give off Charges or Zeal, allowing them to best make use of their Order abilities. This kind of playstyle may be referred to as ‘engine’ style, where you set up stuff that can achieve a lot of value if left unchecked. NR, like Scoia’Tael, also has unit/’tribe’ themes, as they have many interactions with Machine, Soldier, and Specter types.
Likewise, their leaders also help out with the whole Order/Charge/Zeal trinity. King Foltest can boost allies while giving them Zeal – practically any Order unit can benefit from being able to immediately use their ability, though powerful examples include Seltkirk of Gule, Nenneke, Kaedweni Revenant, Gaunter O’Dimm, and more.
King Demavend III can give Charges to units repeatedly on a cooldown. Again, similar to Foltest, there are plenty of Order units that use Charges, and Demavend can keep these engines going to increase their value. Examples include combo’ing him with cards like Priscilla, Aretuze Adept, Nenneke, Foltest’s Pride, and many Machine type units like Ballista and Reinforced Ballista.
King Henselt meanwhile can play a copy of an allied unit on the battlefield from your deck (usually this means a Bronze unit since you can only have one copy of each Gold card, unless you multiplied it through other means), boost it, and give it Zeal. There are various Bronze cards you could multiply and make use of immediately (as well as set up engines), such as Blue Stripes Scout, Kaedweni Knight, and many Machine type units like Ballista and Reinforced Ballista.
In all the above cases, these leaders can help further your cause of setting up Order abilities, then allowing you to get value through Zeal and additional charges.
Lastly, Princess Adda has a simple power of dealing 8 damage to a unit once per match. This ability can seem out of place with the NR general trends, but on the other hand it opens up NR to try out different strategies thanks to this wholly different power. Her ability can pair nicely with cards like Hubert Rejk, who is boosted the same amount as all damage done on the same turn he is played. Of course, it can also be used simply to remove a dangerous threat at the very least
If you like setting up ‘engines’ through armies and war machines, then pelting away with Order abilities that miraculously don’t run out and are available quickly, NR might be for you, except for Adda who leans away from the typical NR trends but opens up different strategies.
Nilfgaard (Black): The Nilfgaardian Empire is the most powerful empire in the world. Originating in the southern parts of the Continent, it has expanded mostly from conquering foreign countries and converting them into provinces of Nilfgaard. With a large, disciplined military backed by a strong economy and a big appetite for expansion, it is no wonder why most most other civilizations hate them.
- Reveal: Keyword. Reveal a card to both players, then hide it back into their hand or deck. Often plays an effect based on what was revealed. Essentially a risk that relies on randomness, but this risk can be mitigated with the right deck composition.
- Spying: Keyword. Status for a unit played or moved to the opposite side of the battlefield. It seems counterintuitive to give units to your opponent, but often these gives you benefits, and/or can be used for setting up interactions. Spying units are not exclusive to Nilfgaard but they have more of them, and have more uses for them.
- Lock: Keyword. Status that disables a unit’s abilities and removes other statues. Not exclusive to Nilfgaard, but again they have more of these.
- Tactics: A Special card subtype (basically a spell). Not exclusive to Nilfgaard, but they have more than any other faction and a few more interactions with Tactic cards.
- Enemy buffing: Nilfgaard features more cards that can buff enemy units. This seems counterintuitive but again, they have various interactions with boosted enemy cards that can be beneficial, whether it’s damaging boosted units or setting up a deadly spell.
- ‘Top card in deck’: Nilfgaard also features effects that can move cards to the top of someone’s deck, and interactions with top cards of a deck. This can be useful to set up card draws or interactions.
- Unique control cards: Nilfgaard features some more unique cards in terms of player interactions. Some examples include being able to ‘mill’ (discard from deck) enemy cards with Viper Witcher, create another copy of any unit on the board (as opposed to only enemy targets) with Letho: Kingslayer, Lock all copies of a targeted card in an opponent’s hand/deck instead of just the single target with Auckes, and of course having the Usurper leader choice, who disables enemy leader abilities entirely.
Nilfgaard is quite a bit more complicated than the other factions. They love to play more control orientated, using Reveals to gain more information and/or benefits. Spying units tend to come with benefits more for you, but importantly the unit you give your opponents can be used to set up interactions and combos. Plus, boosted enemy units can also play into your hands when it comes to certain effects – for example, you can boost enemy units to put them into range of a deadly spell, or boost them only to copy them with another card. Meanwhile, Lock plays into their control theme as these can help you get around problematic unit effects and engines, and certain interactions with some Tactics and ‘top card in deck’ mechanics can let you get real crafty. Lastly, having the most unique control cards in the game may also be an attractive and unique factor. Given their control nature, Nilfgaard is among the best factions for limiting the opposing player’s options thanks to their choices of cards and leaders, some of which were listed above.
Realistically, Reveal is very risky and generally not worth it for newcomers. Arguably the most important aspect of Reveal is…well, the reveal of card information, allowing a savvy player to notice what kind of cards an opponent is running as well as calculate card probabilities. The problem is, this is useless if you haven’t memorized nearly all the cards in the game, and if you don’t know what players are doing (meta knowledge). In addition, Gwent has an unfortunate lack of clarity on Revealed cards – the history tracker does not track revealed cards, and Revealed cards only show up for a split second before disappearing, with no way of looking it up again. Sadly this makes this mechanic very difficult for beginners, as Reveal literally just shows a card picture for half a second, and disappears forever. Don’t know what picture you just saw? Too bad. Looked away for half a second and missed the Reveal? Too bad
In addition, relying on randomness is also just quite risky in general, as your Reveals are never going to have quite a consistent effect. Of course this can be mitigated by extreme measures, but at the end of the day it’s still relying on chance, especially if it relies on an opponent’s deck. Thus, the Reveal mechanic is one of the bigger reasons why Nilfgaard is more difficult for beginners.
In terms of leaders, Emhyr var Emreis is interesting as he can move an allied unit or artifact back to your hand, then play a card. This is great for recycling abilities (like Deploy ones) and/or ‘saving’ a damaged unit to increase point score or prevent it from dying. Some examples include using his ability to re-use strong Deploy abilities like Leo Bonhart, Zoltan: Scoundrel, Dandelion: Poet, and almost any Geralt card. Emhyr is also one of the best leaders to use in the very unique Shupe decks, which require no duplicates of any cards in your starting deck. His power allows him to pick up and re-use the chosen Shupe ability again.
Morvan Voorhis has the ability to reveal a random card from opponent’s deck and boost a unit by 2, with 3 charges per match. This has synergy with Reveal mechanics, and can be combo’d with cards like Cahir Dyffryn, Sweers, and Mangonel.
Meanwhile Jan Calveit is a simple ability to look at the top three cards of your deck and play one. This is most obviously useful to help fish for what you might need at the moment, and it also acts as a ‘free’ card (fantastic for card advantage) since it is played from your deck instead of your hand . Some synergy can be gained by using the ability with cards that can show you what your next top cards are, such as Vicovaro Novice and Isbel of Hagge.
Lastly, Usurper is an amusing leader who comes with a crazy ability of passively disabling the enemy leader’s ability entirely! Note that he himself does not provide anything else, so it can be thought of as a way to ‘even the odds’ by making both players unable to use any leader powers. This makes the matchup more dependent on the decks themselves. As a disadvantage for this power though, Usurper only provides 160 Provision cap, which is the lowest of all the leaders currently.
If you like control orientated decks that can make use of playing around with numbers thanks to Spying and boosting your enemies, don’t mind some randomness through Reveals, and want greater control over opponents with unique interactions and abilities no other faction can do, Nilfgaard may be for you. As I mentioned above though, it’s not an easy faction for newcomers.
8) How do I play the game ‘properly’? I understand the basics, but I still feel like I know nothing!
Advanced gameplay advice
This section details out more advanced gameplay advice to help teach newcomers the finer aspects of Gwent. This kind of stuff can get complicated so buckle up! Topics includes mulligans, round progression, general player plans, etc.
The importance of Mulligans/Redraws
A mulligan in card games is basically a ‘do-over’. In other aspects of life it is referred to as a second chance to perform something, like say a second shot or a second action. In card games, it often refers to being able to redraw cards.
In Gwent, mulligans are extremely important. The ability to draw additional cards, as well as play different cards outside of your hand is limited. In addition, you must play a card every turn if you want to progress, otherwise you have to pass up the entire round while your opponent still has free reign to choose when they’re finished.
Each player may redraw at least twice a round. In cases where one would draw over their hand limit of 10 in between rounds (since players draw 3 additional cards in round 2 and 3 each), those extra would-be draws are ignored and instead the player receives extra mulligans for each extra ‘over-draw’. For example if a player passes at 8 cards in hand, next round the player will have 10 cards in hand but have 3 mulligans instead of 2.
Max hand limit
There is maximum hand limit of 10 in Gwent. As mentioned before, if you were to draw over your hand limit in between rounds (not due to an in-game action though), you will instead receive an extra mulligan for each would-be ‘over-draw’. This is generally a rare occurrence but provides a reward for those who can get such an advantage.
‘Deck Thinners’ and the Witcher Trio (Lambert, Vesemir, and Eskel)
Adding on to the first point, many decks have ‘deck thinner’ cards. These are basically cards that, when played, summon or use up other cards from your deck. An example of this that you’ll see commonly iis the Witcher trio of Lambert, Vesemir, and Eskel. Whenever one of these cards is played, the other two Witchers will be pulled from the player’s deck and put onto the board. This only works if they’re in the deck however – if more than one of these guys are in your hand, that usually nullifies the strong play (as it becomes a 3 or 6 point play instead of a 9 point play).
This means when it comes to the Witcher trio, you generally should mulligan one of them away if you have more than one of them in your hand.
The advantage of these guys is that once you play them, they ‘thin’ out your deck, as it essentially means you get rid of 3 cards at once without causing yourself a disadvantage (since they give you a 9 point play for one card being played). By ‘thinning’ your deck, later rounds have better chances of drawing something useful (or allows you to better make use of your mulligans) instead of putting multiple Witchers in your hand, where they are less useful than being summoned by their effect.
General round progression, card advantage, and why losing rounds on purpose can be a good thing
In general, rounds in Gwent usually go to a full three rounds. This is not always the case as sometimes players may try to go for a full blown first two round win, but this is usually rare.
The reason why games often go to three rounds is due to card advantage as well as score potential. Card advantage usually refers to having more cards to play than the opponents, but may also refer to getting such particularly good value out of your own cards that it is worth multiple cards played by the opponent. Card advantage is a huge deal in Gwent and often decides victory. More info on this below.
First, let’s start with the general progression of rounds. Rounds continue until both players pass, which happens either when they decide to do it manually, or when they run out of cards and are forced to pass. When you pass you can no longer do anything, but your opponent still has free reign to do more turns until they pass. This is important in cases where you want to concede a round, or when you have a large point lead and want to conserve card advantage as you hope your opponent has to play more than the amount of cards you played to exceed your score.
A big thing to note is that the winner of the previous round must start the next round first. Going first is generally a disadvantage in Gwent due to the reactionary nature of the game (unlike other games where it can be good to go first), which is why the player who goes first in Round 1 gets Tactical Advantage plus an extra mulligan to help even it out.
In general, Round 1 is very important and both players want to win Round 1. There’s a few reasons for this:
- Both players have the most available cards to them, and thus a higher chance of playing out desired combos and effects that work best for them. After all, it is easier to work with 10 cards compared to 3 cards.
- Round 1 winner can lose Round 2 on purpose, and get ‘last say’ in Round 3. More info on this below.
- Round 1 winner has the advantage in determining the ‘pace’/duration of later rounds. This can lead to strategies such as ‘bleeding’ out an opponent in round 2 by forcing them to play cards they’d rather save for round 3. More info on this below.
You have the most cards in round 1, so it’s easier to work with that over later rounds. However, another big reason players want to win round 1 is it allows them to lose round 2 on purpose, get ‘last say’ in round 3, and helps them determine the pace of the match.
But of course, if everyone wants to win, why would anyone want to lose any round on purpose? And what on earth is the deal with ‘last say’ and other advantages?
Let’s break this down. In round 1, both players want to win round 1. Let’s say player 1 wins. In round 2, player 2 must win or else player 1 wins the entire match. However, in round 1, player 1 spent more cards than his/her opponent, meaning he/she is currently at a card disadvantage.This means if player 1 tries to be greedy to go for two round wins in a row, he/she is at a disadvantage and could end up spending all his/her good cards for nothing. Alternatively, player 2 may have decided to cut his/her losses early in round 1, and so it could be risky for player 1 to try to beat whatever they might have now, especially if player 1 used up some good card combos earlier.
Instead of blowing all of his/her cards in a disadvantaged fight, player 1 decides to play only a couple of cards to bait out some opponent cards, then passes. Player 2 then wins round 2.
Alternatively, player 1 can pass without spending any cards, also known as a ‘dry pass‘. By dry passing in round 2, player 1 spends no cards but player 2 must spend at least one card to win round 2 (or else lose the entire match). This can either even up the odds by putting both players back at the same number of cards, or player 1 ends up with card advantage in round 3 by having an extra card to play over the opponent. If the dry pass occurs at 8 or more cards remaining in hand, player 1 will receive extra mulligans for the would-be ‘over-draws’ next round.
The winner of each round must go first the next round, which is usually disadvantageous in Gwent (unlike most games where going first is a good thing). Since player 1 purposely lost round 2, he/she now has ‘last say’ in round 3, meaning player 2 must go first and player 1 gets to play his/her last card after player 2 does.
Remember that certain cards can influence number of cards remaining in hand, so sometimes cards like Ciri and Ciri: Dash make it easier to gain extra mulligans.
The winner of round 1 often has the advantage in determining the duration of round 2 and 3. This is because they have the option of metaphorically forcing the enemy player’s hands in round 2, which could then influence round 3. Back to our example, player 1 can choose to dry pass to gain card advantage or even the odds. However, player 1 can also choose to bleed the opponent, which basically means to force the opponent to play valuable cards he/she would rather save for round 3. This is great in cases where you are using a deck that favours short round 3’s – an example of this is the ‘Woodland Giants’ archetype deck, which uses high strength units to finish the game with a high score lead. Due to this style, the deck revolves around instant value – rather than worrying about setting up controlling interactions and engines, it is more concerned with just finishing with a high score lead. The more chances an opponent has to eliminate these high strength units, the harder it is to win. So, if the player forces the opponent to use up valuable combo/removal cards earlier, the opponent will have fewer cards to work with in round 3 (technically so does the Woodland Giant’s player, but this is less of a problem for him/her) and thus has a harder time of winning now. Alternatively, if player 1 would prefer to have a long round 3, he/she can decide when to end round 2 earlier instead of being at the mercy of the opponent.
Regardless of a player’s strategy, whoever wins round 1 has the advantage in influencing how round 2 and 3 will play out. In general, being able to recognize the opponent’s strategy will help inform what you want to do in each round, but this of course takes a lot of experience and ‘meta knowledge’.
So to recap, in general:
- Ideal pathway: Win round 1, lose round 2 but don’t end up at a card disadvantage, win round 3 with the perk of going second instead of first (also getting ‘last say’).
- If you win Round 1, you have the option of dry passing. By dry passing, you lose round 2 but spend no cards while the opponent must play a card to continue the match, sometimes giving you card advantage while setting you up with ‘last say’ in round 3.
- If you know you are going to lose round 1 early (say, you spot an unbeatable engine coming up), try to pass at 7 cards or less remaining in hand. This way, the opponent can’t get extra mulligans. Otherwise, if it’s deeper into round 1, try to bait out their combo pieces without over committing, and then pass, especially if you can nullify card advantage by forcing them to play one more card than you did before passing.
- If you don’t win round 1, see what your opponent does in round 2, as they have to go first. In most cases they will dry pass. Sometimes an opponent will try to go for a two round win immediately. While this is rare, it can happen if you’re both at the same number of cards in hand in Round 2. This is something that takes experience to know how to deal with, but essentially, you should have the advantage if you cut your losses in round 1, as the opponent likely spent some good cards/card combos to win round 1 in the first place. If they are taking the risk to bleed you out in round 2, you should be in a position to still win round 2.
You can only Pass if no actions are taken. Don’t forget about leader powers but don’t misuse them either!
Passing is an important action in Gwent, but it can only be done if no actions are done on your turn. This means using a leader power or a card’s Order ability (including Tactical Advantage) will forfeit your ability to pass, and instead force you to play a card that turn.
Leader powers are often a huge factor in victories. One mistake I often made as a newbie was completely forgetting about them. Leader powers are basically free cards to play, so not using them can often be detrimental. Many leader powers are one time use, while other powers are repeatable, whether by limited charges or by refreshing on every round start. Sometimes that tiny bit of damage, that boost of power, or that cool effect, can be all it takes to secure victory by a few points!
That all said, leader powers can be misused by accident. As mentioned, using a leader power will forfeit your ability to pass, so beware of that! If you’re going to use an Order or a leader power, make sure you’re okay with spending a card that turn too!
Always pay attention to card text
Whether in constructed or Arena, always be careful with what a card says. Some cards don’t discriminate allied targets, so cards like Epidemic (destroy the lowest unit(s)) and Scorch (destroy the highest unit(s)) can actually destroy your own units. Some cards have Reach, so their row placement determines what they can target (e.g Reach 2 means it can only reach two rows ahead, so it needs to be in the Melee row to reach the enemy Ranged row). Others have abilities that trigger based on which row they are thrown in (Melee or Ranged). Don’t rush – you have time each turn to check your cards.
You can discard a card into your graveyard instead of playing it
While this is rare to use, it can come in handy in certain situations. Instead of playing a card, you can actually throw it directly into the graveyard by clicking on the graveyard instead of the board. You usually won’t get any effects compared to playing it normally, but this can be useful to continue turns without playing a card that could create problems for you (ex. giving opponent a target, harmful effect, etc.).
9) How does profile and ranked progression work?
CDPR conveniently laid out their explanation for how progression works on their website.
Profile Progression: Leveling rewards and Prestige
You level up your profile by simply playing the game against human opponents (practice against AI does not count). After each match you will see your progress increase. Every level up grants a Reward Point.
In addition, reaching certain milestones in levels grants permanent benefits in the form of increased rewards from doing what you already do. As seen on their website, the ‘maximum’ level a Profile can reach is 60. After going above 60, you will become level 1 Prestige 1, and can repeat the process over and over until reaching prestige 10.
Prestige permanently grants perks that lead to gaining bonus reward or makes it easier to gain resources. For example, at Prestige 2 you may reroll Daily Quests twice instead of once a day. Prestige 4 grants Reward Points in daily rewards, and Prestige 10 players are guaranteed at least one Premium choice in the card choice part of opened Kegs. For the full list see their webpage on progression.
Note that the experience curve resets when you Prestige. So going from level 1 to 2 is just the same as going from “61” to “62”.
Ranked Progression: Rank 30 to 1, Faction MMR, and Pro Rank
Players start at rank 30 and must progress up the ‘ladder’ to rank 1. To progress in ranks, you must win a series of matches. Every rank is composed of 5 ‘stained glass’ pieces. Each victory grants you a piece of the picture, whereas losing will cause you to lose a piece.
Winning three or more matches in a row grants you an additional piece, so you will progress up the ranks faster if you stay on a winning streak.
Note that the way you progress is dependent on what rank you currently are (ex. ranks 30-26 cannot lose ranks from losing).
After 5 pieces are gathered, an avatar picture is formed (which unlocks for you to use if you do not have it!), and then the next rank begins. Repeat to continue climbing up the ranks.
- Rank 30-26: Dropping ranks is not possible.
- Rank 25-15: You only lose ranks by losing two matches in a row at 0 stains.
- Rank 14-8: No conditions, progress is normal. Win streaks still apply.
- Rank 7-1: Win streaks no longer apply, so each win only adds one stained piece.
In addition, there is something called Faction Matchmaking Rank, or fMMR. After reaching level 25, your Faction MMR is now available, and all matches start affecting your faction’s Ranked score. Faction MMR is basically a measure of how well you do with particular factions. It is then factored into matchmaking. Each of the playable factions will have a number (the MMR) attached to them, which then affects matchmaking when you play Ranked games.
Having a high MMR for particular factions means a higher likelihood of facing off against similarly highly rated players. The opposite is true if you are playing on your weaker Factions, as the MMR would be lower and thus similarly matched opponents will also have lower MMR.
Pro Rank is what happens once you reach Rank 1 and want to keep going. CDPR has a website page explaining the details.
Basically Pro Rank puts an even greater importance on performing well with all factions, as each Faction requires a minimum of 40 games each to fully ‘unlock’ the contributions of their Faction MMR to the player’s overall MMR score.
The top 200 ranked players are then given “Crown Points” on a monthly basis, which are used in qualifying for various official tournaments.