Since last month, we’ve seen many big names in the Gwent community, like Swim and Crokeyz, take temporary breaks from streaming the game. Their reasons have ranged from a mere lack of a draft mode to the new “dumbing down” of certain archetypes. What’s more, controversial streamer Petrify hasn’t shied away from criticising the game’s development, recently making a video about why he feels the agility change has made the game worse. Last week saw CD Projekt Red release a patch fixing various issues that many believed should have been fixed months ago. And to them I say, just like a Clan Corsair, “You’ve sailed into troubled waters, mate.”
Opinions aside, there is no denying that CD Projekt Red blew many away with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Featuring over 200+ hours of intriguing stories, steamy romances and places to explore, its generous DLC content put other AAA developers to shame for what players could get for their season pass. RPGs are their thing. CCGs, however, were more mysterious than the forests of Dol Blathanna. And we’ve seen them make plenty of mistakes in Gwent’s development.
In the past six months, CDPR have reworked both individual card mechanics and how the game is played as a whole. We’ve even seen gold immunity removed, a core part of Gwent’s identity, and row limits introduced. The agility change was billed the “update that would change the way you played Gwent”. Even I have to admit to meeting this with a cheeky, “To be honest, I’m getting tired of changing the way I play Gwent.”
Make a u-turn when possible
U-turns may not be positive in politics, but in game development they can be admirable. It highlights the developers passion for their game, willing to swallow their pride and go back on their mistakes. Summoning Circle, a neutral silver special, was previously unable to copy disloyal units, instead only spawning a base copy of the last bronze or silver unit played.
In the gold immunity change, however, the card was reworked to copy any bronze or silver unit placed on the board. Cue four to six months of card advantage being even more of a problem than it already was. The most recent patch saw Summoning Circle reverted to its past form. Perhaps it took CDPR a bit too long to listen, but it was the u-turn the community craved. Gone are the days of excessive spy spam.
The new patch also saw Scoia’tael receive some nerfs. Since the Midwinter Update brought Paulie Dahlberg into the game, the non-human faction began shifting away from its traditional play of resiliency, spells and ambush cards. Then again, previous nerfs to Spell Scoia’tael had left the faction in a mess, but the new card made them viable again for all the wrong reasons.
Gwenty cards make big pointies
Able to resurrect a bronze non-support dwarf, Paulie Dahlberg could be combined with a strengthened Dwarven Skirmisher to produce a 20 point play. But knowledgeable players will notice a similarity with another faction. Powerful resurrections are a core component of Skellige, and seeing this in Scoia’tael isn’t exactly lore friendly. The faction had become Skellige with elf, dryad and dwarf card art.
Meanwhile, the changes to Restore a few seasons passed were creating another problem for Skellige and the pace of Gwent as a whole. In addition, the introduction of Tuirseach Beastmaster gave an already problematic Skellige silver a perfect target, creating yet another powerful resurrection. A popular opinion was that Gwent had abandoned its roots. This was a new, simplified Gwent – who could “vomit” the most points onto the board.
Despite its flaws – like a questionable “nerf” to Ciri: Nova that’s actually a buff as it’s no longer susceptible to Geralt: Igni – the recent patch has eliminated many key issues. Seeing powerful, “point vomiting” cards like Dwarven Skirmisher get tuned down gives hope for fans wishing to see creative deckbuilding return. And that’s not forgetting how any card resurrected will now be doomed, meaning it’s removed from the game on re-entering the graveyard.
Gwent: The Artifact Waiting Room?
Overall, we can look at these changes and see the developers love for both their game and the community they make it for. They’ve finally began publishing detailed patch notes with reasoning behind their changes, something previous patches were lacking. That said, some archetypes could still use some love – the entire Northern Realms faction is still recovering from their armour nerfs three seasons ago. But Gwent’s esports events, like Open and Challenger, have always been met with praise. The game even made Twitch’s top ten most streamed games of the year. No matter the upcoming competition, this CCG is no waiting room. It’s here to stay.