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Video Game / Gwent: The Witcher Card Game

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Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is a Card Battle Game developed by CD Projekt RED and based on The Witcher universe. It began as a Collectible Card Game Mini-Game within The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt but had so many players Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer that it was expanded and reworked into a standalone version.

Gwent was announced at E3 2016 with a closed beta begun in October of that year. The closed beta test ended May 22, 2017 and open beta began on the 24th. It had a full release in October 2018 for Windows and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in December later that year. A standalone single-player Gwent-based RPG called Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales was released alongside the game.

The end of March 2019 saw the release of the first proper expansion, Crimson Curse, themed around vampires, bringing 101 new cards and an additional leader for each faction. A mobile release occurred in 2019, coming first to iPhone with an Android release to follow. Late 2019 the console ports were closed and all users were migrated over to their choice of PC or Mobile.

Currently Gwent is up to five expansions and is playable on Windows, Apple, and Mobile devices. It is Free-to-Play, but very kind about monetization. There are no advertisements. Most monetization is in the form of optional cosmetics such as card backs and leader skins. All cards may be obtained via regular play. There is no secondary card market: all cards can be traded for within the deck editor or found within card kegs. Even losing a game will generate a reward for having completed the game to start with.

Gwent is, at first glance, relatively simple as card games go.

The goal of Gwent is to have more points on the field than your opponent at the end of the round. A round ends either when both players have passed or neither player has any more cards to play. The board is wiped clean of all cards at the end of each round. Games are played to best of three rounds.

The three-round structure combined with the limited resources at a player's disposal forms a duel of each player attempting to field enough units to overpower the other while at the same time, not over-commit and find themselves unable to win.

The board is divided into two rows, melee and ranged. Players are limited to playing one card per turn. On their turn, they must either play a card on their turn, discard a card from their hand (the card is not played), or else pass and forfeit playing any more cards for the remainder of the round. New cards are drawn/redrawn at the start of each round. There is a maximum hand size of ten cards per player.

Decks are composed of a minimum of twenty-five cards. In building a deck, a player selects from one of six factionsnote  and have a choice of one of six leader abilities per faction, each with a uniquely powerful ability and differing amounts of Provisions allowed to build a deck with. A suite of neutral cards also exists which may inhabit any deck. You may select any card you own for your deck as long as it matches your faction or is neutral. Your deck must stay within the provision cost set by your leader ability. You may have two copies of any valid bronze card in your deck, but only one copy for gold cards.

There are three card types: units, special cards, and artifacts. Most cards are units, which all have a single number denoting their strength which adds to the player's totals. Special cards affect units on the field or have unique effects such as allowing the drawing of new cards during a round. Artifacts work like special cards, however, they remain on the field until the round ends or they are removed by another card's effect. Cards in general have no mana or other resource cost. The exception is Syndicate cards which sometimes require Coins to use special effects. Coins are generated by syndicate cards and leader abilities.

Gwent is a fairly balanced card game with frequent updates and balance patches. There is a marked lack of random chance (almost no "coin flip" cards!) with a strong emphasis on planning and strategy.

Gwent contains examples of the following tropes:

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    Advertising, Media and other Out of Game stuff 
  • Creator Cameo: One of the Scoia'tael units, Pavko Gale, is based on and voiced by community manager Pawel Burza. He sometimes cosplays as Pavko for various media outings such as this Studio Tour.
    Pavko: Juiciest leeks in town, get 'em here!
    • Walter Veritas, a Syndicate unit, is based on game director Jason Slama.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Geralt: Let me guess. She's got a dragon.
  • Market-Based Title: The game is known as Gwint in the original Polish, changed during the various localizations of The Witcher 3 for ease of pronunciation.
    • In The Witcher 3, Gwent has different names in several languages. For the multiplayer game, the name was consolidated to Gwent in all regions outside of Poland.
  • Spin-Off: Popular demand for more of the sidequest Mini-Game from Witcher 3 led to this standalone game.

    Art/Sounds in-game 
Warning: this section may have unmarked spoilers for The Witcher books and/or games.

  • Adaptational Modesty: Characters that would have been topless in other Witcher media are now relegated to Godiva Hair and Sideboob due to the teen rating.
  • Chained to a Rock: The fate of Birna Bran depicted on her card art, battered by waves on a stormy sea.
  • Digital Bikini: Some of the card art in the Chinese client has had this treatment due to local censorship policies.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Nilfgaardian spy Cantarella's card has her leaning in for a kiss with a man, while reaching into his bag to pilfer some important document.
  • Fan Disservice: Very common in the monsters factions where the features of shapely often naked women are combined with bloody fangs/claws, gore, withered skin, and other unpleasant features.
    • The Gernichora leader skin is the epitome of this with withered human arms and legs tipped in claws, grey saggy skin, pendulous breasts, a human-like head with blonde hair and no nose, a tadpole-like tail coming from between her legs, and beady blank white eyes. She's covered in warty growths and has leech-like "fruits" hanging from her chest and torso. You can tell she was a sexy woman once... but not anymore!
  • Flavor Text: Found on every card in the game, even tokens spawned by other units.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Dryads are nearly always in the nude, but censored strategically to meet the teen rating. Lesser female vampires such as Bruxa and Alp are assaulting in the nude albeit without visible nipples. The monster leader Gernichora is fully nude and 3d modeled, much to nobody's delight.
  • Human Sacrifice: Ritual Sacrifice triggers all deathwish effects on your side of the board. In its art Brewess is leading the children of Velen to the sacrifice.
  • Leg Focus: The premium animation for Vivienne: Oriole begins with her pose to emphasize her exposed lower half, before shifting into her bird-like form.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The Northern Realms pack a lot of knightly units with big swords and shiny armor, but their vocal callouts pack a lot of bitterness and sarcasm.
    Redanian Knight: Long live etcetera etcetera...
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Significant events from the Witcher trilogy and book saga are spoiled by cards. Examples include:
    • Birna Bran's punishment of being chained to a rock at sea, ala Prometheus.
    • The death of Milva.
    • Gwent offers two divergent possible solutions to the quest to determine the ruler of Skellige, showing both Cerys an Craite with a suite of Queensguard and Svanrige an Tuirseach's flavor text naming him king.
    • The Thronebreaker cards are an odd example of this. Many may spoil events of the game they come with due to the cards abilities being based on the events of the game.
  • Magic Cauldron: The Crones are depicted gathered around a cauldron, stirring a skull into a glowing brew of flesh and bones.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Several cards push the Fanservice as far as possible but conceal the all-important nipples. A few female vampires, such as Alp, simply appear not to have any nipples despite Full-Frontal Assault.
  • Shout-Out: Various cards have Shout-outs in their flavor text.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Scorch, appropriately, features unfortunate individuals scorched to the bones on its art.
  • The Upper Crass: Imlerith, The "Duke of Dogs", and Whoreson Junior all are upper-class types who chose to be crude and downright vicious despite having noble/wealthy family. Their taunts reflect this.
  • Variable Mix: Songs played during battles have high-energy sections, and low-energy sections. The low-energy part plays most of the time, while the more intense part kicks in when mulliganing cards or if a round goes on for long enough.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Ritual Sacrifice's art shows Brewess marching chained children to the sacrifice.
    • And then there's Whoreson Senior depicted looking at a painting as a battered and bruised young boy clings fearfully to his sleeve. It's his son. The abuse is what eventually makes young Cyprian break and become a monster.

    Game Mechanics 
  • Awesome, yet Impractical:
    • Shupe's Day Off has a massive array of possible effects, all of which are very powerful. What effect you get is random, many of the effects themselves are random, and being able to use the card at all requires having no duplicates in your deck, making it too unwieldy to use most of the time outside of Arena.
    • Renew and Hanmarvyn's Blue Dream let you play a card from your or your opponent's graveyard, respectively. They also cost 12 provisions, far higher than any faction-specific ways to play with cards in the graveyard.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The Crimson Curse, a special card depicting a vampire ritual that turns the moon blood red. It generates the Blood Moon row effect which buffs vampires for its duration.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Played straight as cards are unlocked through kegs which can be purchased individually for in-game currency or in bundles for real money.
    • Also Averted as they may also be won via the Arena, unlocked by completing sections of the Rewards tree, swapped for other cards via the milling system, or occasionally granted as a reward for playing (win or lose).
  • Came Back Strong: Skellige has several effects that revive units from the graveyard including one leader ability.
  • Cannibalism Super Power: The Consume mechanic available to monsters where they destroy one of their own units but gain a boost equal to the strength of the unit destroyed, usually to enable some other effect either on the unit doing the consuming or on the prey. Necrophages (Ghoul and Ozzrel) consume units in the graveyard, gaining their strength.
  • Card Battle Game: Gwent is a game simulating a war between factions of the players' choosing.
  • Combination Attack: Any cards with the Bonded modifier, which enhance their abilities when copies of the card are already on the board. Letho's abilities are dependent on his Viper Witcher partners Auckes and Serrit being in hand when he is played, potentially combining both of their effects (locking a unit and dealing damage) into one.
  • Critical Existence Failure: A single dose of the Poison status does nothing to unit. A second tick and they instantly die.
  • Damage Over Time:
    • Weather effects chip off strength each time the opponent starts their turn.
    • The bleeding status deals damage each turn. Similar to Yennefer: The Conjurer, this can become overwhelming when enough units have bleeding and the other side has cards to synergize with it.
  • Duel to the Death: The Duel mechanic where two units take turns hitting each other according to their current strength until one of them is dead. Typically in favor of the unit who started the duel, as their owner got to choose their target and will stack the odds in their favor.
  • Fastball Special: Implied by the Cyclops, who destroys a friendly unit and then damages an enemy by an amount equal to the strength of the ally he destroyed.
  • First-Player Advantage Mitigation: Inverted. The player who loses the opening coin flip is the one with an advantage, since if they're the first to pass, the other player will be forced to go into the next round with card disadvantage. The player who goes first starts the game with Strategic Advantage on the board to compensate, which can be played to boost one of their units by five points, along with getting an extra mulligan before the first round starts. Strategic Advantage can be replaced by a handful of other Stratagems in the deck editor, most of which play for a five point difference, but others provide more unique benefits, such as putting a card in your hand at the bottom of your deck and replacing it with a card of your choice from your deck.
  • Friend or Foe?: Many card effects indiscriminately hit either side of the board. It's a common rite of passage in the game for ignorant newbies to accidentally obliterate their own units.
    • Scorch, which destroys the highest unit(s) on the playing field is the prime offender of this. It's gotten to the point that there are message boards dedicated to explaining that if the highest unit is on your side it will be destroyed. To a lesser extent, this applies to epidemic which targets all of the lowest unit(s).
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side!: Count Caldwell will flip sides on the board based on who has the strongest single unit in play.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • An important skill is knowing when to stop playing cards and when to allow your opponent to win the current round so you have enough strength remaining to win the game. There are multiple cards that can get you an advantage should you lose the round:
    • Ciri is not very impressive by herself, having 4 strength while taking up a large amount of precious deckbuilding provisions. However, should you lose the round in which you played her, she returns to your hand instead of going to the graveyard. 4 strength might not be much, but the value she poses as an additional card to play makes her ability powerful.
    • It's also useful to try making your opponent fail to use this trope by deliberately baiting out more of their cards with cards that you can afford to use.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: There used to be a "Brave" ability on some cards in Beta. Their abilities, generally a sizable Power-Up, will only trigger if you are losing when they are played.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: The Monsters faction has access to the Consume mechanic, allowing their units to chow down on each other and gain power equal to the unit that was destroyed.
  • Mooks: The Monster factions features many of these from the Witcher series, such as Foglets and Nekkers. Many Monster decks use tactics based around these mooks, creating as many copies of them as they can before overwhelming the opponent with sheer numbers.
  • Mook Maker: The monster faction can build around this concept via Explosive Breeder and Spawn Broodling. Some monsters generate tokens under certain conditions. The Arachas Queen-inspired leader ability specializes in this, passively spawning tokens whenever you destroy one of your own units during your turn or play an "organic" card in your turn.
  • Play Every Day: The first 12 rounds won each day grant an additional crown half for progression through the Journey.
    • Every day you play grants a reward, with rewards for each week being shown at a time. Completing seven days in a row improves the rewards afterwards. Festivals and other events often have bonus gifts such a reward points added in to the daily prizes. Missing days will not reset anything.
  • Random Number God: Several card effects are determined by RNG, such as Tridam Infantry damaging a random enemy whenever it receives a boost.
    • Create is a mostly random mechanic, giving the player a choice of three options within some parameter (e.g. Create a bronze Special card from your starting deck and Play it).
    • Shupe's Day Off plays a random effect out of a pool of abilities based on a choice of three versions of Shupe.
    • Gascon randomly boosts himself by an amount between 0 and 11.
  • Switch-Out Move: Decoy invokes this idea to swap a unit on the board with the top unit in your deck, but doesn't count as a unit itself. Emhyr's leader ability returns a Nilfgaardian unit to the hand before playing any card in his hand, allowing a unit to swap the place in hand of any other card. Call of the Forest allows you to cycle a unit from the field to the deck and swap it with another unit with the same primary category.
  • Zerg Rush: Multiple cards spawn copies of themselves or pull out troops from your deck.
    • Blue Stripes Commandos, the Witcher trio (Eskel, Lambert and Vesemir), and Crow Messenger are examples that pull copies of themself out of the deck.
    • Roach (Geralt's famous glitchy horse) will play itself from the deck the first time you play a gold card. Knickers is a cute dog that sometimes plays itself right from the deck at random, even if you didn't play anything!
    • Kaedweni Revenants and Kikimore Warriors spawn copies of themselves whenever they destroy a unit.
    • Arachas Queen Monster decks inevitably flood the board with weak tokens, either as fodder for consuming or self-destroy effects or row-based buffs like Commander's Horn.
    • Syndicate's Firesworn archetype revolves around filling your board with Firesworn Zealots, with extra cards to boost whole rows of them, sacrifice them for utility, and to gain extra power and Coins with each summoned.