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    dkirschner's Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (PC)

    [September 26, 2022 11:28:32 AM]
    Since I've recently retired Legends of Runeterra (LoR), I can't help but compare it to Gwent. They're very different games. I've also been thinking a lot about Hearthstone lately, which I haven't played in years, but did spend a few years playing. (LoR is much more similar to Hearthstone). Here are reasons I'm enjoying Gwent more than LoR:

    1. It's slower, less chaotic. I have more time to think in Gwent. Along with this, there are fewer card mechanics, and the numbers on cards are smaller (e.g., attack power doesn't skyrocket). This is generally good for me in handling so much information!

    2. The relative difference between more and less powerful cards is smaller than in LoR. You're not going to play one card and insta-win. Your opponent is not going to buff a card to unmanageable heights in one round and annihilate you. For these reasons, the game feels more fair and balanced.

    3. Gwent is more tactical and involves planning much farther ahead. This is in part due to its best-of-three structure. Hearthstone just went back and forth player-opponent in each round. LoR went back and forth but added attack and defend phases in each round. Gwent goes back and forth sort of like Hearthstone, but you play three "sets" (idk what to call them) in the game. It's best two-out-of-three. Cards in your hand after each set carry to the next. Between each set, you draw three more cards. This means that if you play all your cards in the first set, you'll only have three cards in the second set. This happens often. But, you can choose to "pass," which is useful if you are clearly ahead or behind. If you're behind, it saves you from wasting more cards in that set. If you're ahead, either your opponent will also pass (realizing that they're behind, or that it's not worth trying to come back from behind to win the set) or they will play cards to win the set, which puts them at a disadvantage later because if they play extra cards to win a set, then you'll have more cards than them in the following set. You can also strategically hold cards through a set. Often, I will try to save more powerful cards for later. Some cards grow in power if you hold them. Or, you may hope to draw better synergies after each set. But it's never guaranteed! Sometimes you hold a card the whole time and realize it would have been much better played in the first set. Other times, it wins you the game. There is also a lot of guessing what your opponent is up to. I've already learned that I can "trick" people into removing a threat that isn't really a threat, or playing a little bit of a strategy, but really moving into a different strategy, and the opponent counters the wrong thing. Overall, I feel I can be cleverer in Gwent!

    4. Gwent is generous with rewards. It's much more free-to-play (although you can of course purchase card packs) and free-to-play players can actually compete in ranked modes. There are also far fewer types of rewards to earn, which simplifies things.

    5. The "single-player" is more interesting than LoR. In LoR, single-player began great, but quickly devolved into playing the same AI decks on the same maps over and over ad infinitum, grinding away. In Gwent, there's no story mode per se, but there are stories. And as this is the Witcher universe and this is CD Projekt Red, the writing is fantastic. As you unlock "reward points," you can choose to progress through various maps with rewards to unlock. This is purely to get you cards and vanity items like avatars or game boards, but the games are online with humans, not against AI! Playing other people is more engaging than playing AI. It makes me wish that the Path of Champions in LoR could have been completed against humans. I have also figured out though that the game, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, is like a standalone single-player RPG of Gwent. It has some tie-ins (achievements, rewards), for playing through Thronebreaker. So, I'm actually stopping Gwent until Thronebreaker next goes on sale on Steam. Then I will play that, and continue Gwent later when I am probably better at it.

    Here are a couple things I'm missing in Gwent:

    1. When your opponent plays a card, you get a few seconds to look at it before it goes on the board or disappears. If it goes on the board, that's fine because you can continue looking. But if it's a spell and disappears, it's confusing because I can't always understand it quickly enough to know what it did! And there is no "previous move" list to refer to, as in LoR and Hearthstone.

    2. I wish there was an auto deck-builder. You get a starting deck for each faction, but otherwise have to build your own. This is fun of course, but I remember when Hearthstone added an auto deck-builder to help quickly try new decks and strategies. It was awesome. You could tweak it later. Since each faction comes with like 8 special abilities (once-per-game powers), it would be neat if Gwent had basic decks for each ability. It was funny, I was trying an ability with Skellige that said something like, "Spend one charge to do one damage to any ally on the board. Once you spend all five charges, summon [some big bear card]." I misread the ability as doing damage to enemies, so the first time I played with the ability, I of course lost because I didn't build my deck around doing damage to myself. I haven't tried to make that one again yet, but instead have been playing a Skellige deck with pirates and ships. I forget exactly what the ability does, but there are some cool synergies.

    Anyway, I've been playing only Skellige to learn the game. They're a fun faction with a few different playstyles. One is heavy use of Bloodthirst, which triggers an action if x number of enemies are damaged. So like Bloodthirst 3: Deal 4 damage to an enemy, means that if 3 enemies are damaged, then that card can deal 4 damage to an enemy. The base Skellige deck uses Bloodthirst a lot, so you've got to constantly be trying to keep enemies damaged (but not necessarily dead!) to maximize your own cards. Then there's the ship-and-pirate one, another that focuses on healing and "alchemy" cards (of which I have few), another (as my failed run in the previous paragraph suggests) that focuses on damaging yourself and going berserk, and others.

    I've barely scratched the surface. Really looking forward to Thronebreaker, probably in the Steam winter sale! Maybe I'll knock out another card game (there are so many...) in the meantime.
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    dkirschner's Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (PC)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 19 September, 2022

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    So much simpler than Legends of Runeterra. Love the Witcher universe.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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