Welcome to the first part of our Beginner’s Guide series! We hope you’ll enjoy reading through the guide!
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 and Seasonal mode are, 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, helping them spend less time confused and more time enjoying the game.
Note: 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.
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 will 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 complex 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, are also more important in Gwent than other games.
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.
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 style battles & puzzles. Similar to the Witcher game series, 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.
Note: The Steam version cannot connect to GOG, and thus does not grant Gwent cards and bonuses you normally get with Thronebreaker on GOG.
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.
Gwent is currently only available on PC, PS4, and XBOX ONE and recently for iOS which means no Gwent for Mac and Android. It also has a smaller player population compared to other card games out there but with each expansion, the amount of players rises! In addition, it lacks clarity in several areas, which this guide aims to help with.
Simply put, there’s no harm in trying out Gwent 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 game play (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 / the “play option” (Ranked, Casual and Seasonal)
- Arena Mode
- Deck builder (not a mode, but as the name implies you create decks here)
- Shop (not a mode, you can buy trinkets and resources here)
Well, like most card games, there are a few things to explore. The most obvious is to simply play Ranked, Casual or Seasonal 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.
Seasonal is as it suggests, a seasonal mode that changes with every season in Gwent – which is every month. Throughout the months, the rules for the mode change, from setting your cards’ power equal to their provision, to playing each special card twice, having only 8 seconds to complete your turn, etc. The point of the mode is to get you out of your comfort zone and make you play something other than your regular decks.
And why would you even play Seasonal mode? Each month a new seasonal reward tree comes where you can snatch some new avatars, borders and even cardbacks!
Classic (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, losing repeatedly will no longer make you lose ranks, although you can onĺy lose pieces of the progression mosaic. Some like to play for the competition and the shot at being number 1, while others 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.
Casual (Unranked) has no real consequences and restrictions are lessened – anyone can play them without worrying about losing rank 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 (which can still be difficult for a beginner to beat).
If you want to play Casual, don’t forget to check the box under Ranked!
Arena mode plays differently, as decks are built through choosing from various selections of random cards, rather than by conventional constructed means. Players 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.
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 the 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 Play and do Training. 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 Scoia’Tael starter deck as it can generate a lot of points and with small changes to the starter deck, you can end up with a decent deck.
For the purposes of learning, don’t bother too much with the other faction starter decks except to complete Daily Quests – I personally think getting better with one deck ultimately leads to getting better at the game overall. Why? On one side you are learning to master one type of game play and on the other you can learn from your opponent e.g. new interesting combos, ways of playing etc. So don’t rush for all of the factions right from the start and take them on one by one!
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 as you cannot lose rank progression as mentioned before.
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 of matches will help you from getting information overload.
That’s it for now! Thank you for your time and see you in the second part of the guide!
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