A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gwent is a downloadable free-to-play collectible card game based on the popular Witcher role-playing series. Combat is enacted through turn-based card play; defeated units are simply zapped off the board. Multiplayer matches players against one another randomly, and there's no in-game chat. Players can craft new cards and earn them through gameplay, but cards are also available for purchase in the in-game shop in "kegs." There's some mention of drinking and taverns in the game, as well as a flirty woman who acts as a tutor for the player.
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What's it about?
GWENT loosely depicts the rivalries between various factions from The Witcher via a turn-based card game. Players build decks of cards representing various units and heroes, pitting them against AI with premade decks, or online against players who've crafted their own. Players alternate laying cards down, using strategy to make the cards work best in various combinations. Unlike other games in the genre, the idea isn't to destroy your enemy, but to have more power on the board than your opponent.
Is it any good?
This card game spin-off from a wildly popular franchise is a well-made strategy title that challenges your patience and planning skills. As of this writing, Gwent is still in open beta and as such, is still a work in progress. That said, it's already highly polished, aside from minute issues brought up by hardcore card players. It does a fair job of teaching new players what to do, but players used to the search-and-destroy method of winning could be confused by the additive approach.
The idea in Gwent isn't to destroy your enemy; it's to have more power on the board. While you can still destroy enemy units, remembering that's not the point can be difficult at first. The point is to control the flow of battle, and that means sometimes it's better to pass rather than play. Each player is given only so many cards to last three rounds, and since ultimate victory means winning two rounds of three, it's important to play your cards with care. The graphics are nice (cards can be upgraded from still image to animation), the voice acting and sound are good, and the five current factions are interesting and varied enough to satisfy all kinds of fantasy generals. Single-player challenges and Practice mode let you learn while you earn (in-game currency for buying more cards), or you can jump right into online-ranked or casual multiplayer. Along with that, a simple crafting mechanic lets you craft new cards from the shreds of old ones. Developer CD Projekt Red is no doubt still tweaking the balance of the game, but thus far, playing for free is as easy as falling off a tavern bench. And best of all: The game's so entertaining, you don't have to be a Witcher fan to enjoy it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about good card game strategies. What makes for a good card playing experience?
Discuss games, TV shows, or movies that were spin-offs of something else. Do they add anything to the original property?
Think about good sportsmanship. Is it important to say "good game" even when you lose?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Pricing structure: Free (Contains optional in-game purchases.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: CD PROJEKT RED
- Release date: May 23, 2017
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, suggestive themes, language, use of alcohol, crude humor
- Last updated: May 6, 2021
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