Hearthstone has been the most popular fantasy card game on the eSports scene for some time now, and the game brings in $40 million per month for developers Blizzard Entertainment.
But now there could be a new contender muscling in on the Warcraft-based strategy title’s corner of the market. Gwent is a brand new offering in the genre and it could be the next big thing.
Gwent first appeared in the multiple award-winning fantasy epic The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and was an enthralling mini-game within the sprawling adventure of Geralt of Rivia. Players were able to collect cards and build their own decks, then test them out in battles against a vast number of NPCs within the game’s universe. CD Projekt Red received such positive feedback about Gwent that they decided to make it into a standalone game which has been in a beta testing phase for almost two years. The final edition of the game was released for PC on October 23rd, and will come out on consoles in early December.
Gwent is the latest in a line of fantasy card games which take elements from traditional card games like blackjack and poker but also add magical themes. The aim of the game is to win two out of three rounds against the opponent. To win a round, players need to have more points on their side of the board than their rival. Units have different point values, and there are also artifacts and special cards which can damage units or give more value to units. When building decks, players need to take into account a recruitment cost, with the best cards costing more to include. This ensures that there is balance within the game and decks can’t become too overpowered.
CD Projekt Red has worked extremely hard to increase the amount of skill required and minimize elements of chance. This comes through deck building and working out strategies with which to play the decks. For this reason, Gwent has the potential to be even more popular than games like Hearthstone which often rely on random number generators to determine the outcome of certain events. The eSports scene is so serious now that there are huge betting markets involved. There are csgo betting sites which offer odds on major events in the war game while also providing markets on other games like Hearthstone. Bettors would almost certainly prefer to stake money on events that don’t come down to chance.
During the beta phase, there were numerous high profile Gwent tournaments which allowed some of the best players in the world a chance to win money by playing the game. These competitions, along with the fact that there are a number of popular streamers on Twitch playing the game, show that Gwent has the potential to be an exciting eSports for spectators. But whether it can knock Hearthstone off its perch as the best-loved fantasy card game in the eSports scene is another question entirely.