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Deal Me In: Witcher's Gwent Standalone Hits Closed Beta

Card battling fun

Oh sure, Pokémon Go players may be pests, hanging around congested pavements and getting in the way, but they've nothing on Gwent players. Imagine if they asked you - all of them asked you - if you had any Gwent cards to sell and they bugged you for battles. Insufferable. NPCs in The Witcher 3 must've groaned every time they saw Geralt wandering the streets, deck in hand and a hopeful look on his face.

Thankfully, the free-to-play standalone spin-off Gwent: The Witcher Card Game [official site] will be more Hearthstone than Pokémon Go, with no strolling or nagging. We've no word yet on when Gwent will launch but it is now in closed beta, if you're feeling lucky.

Gwent's closed beta test started yesterday and will run until spring 2017 or thereabouts, according to developers CD Projekt RED. The first batch of beta invitations have gone out, and more will follow over the months. If you want to throw your name into the hat for a chance to be picked, you can sign up for the beta over here.

Gwent, if you didn't see it as a minigame in The Witcher 3, is a collectible card game with warriors, monsters, and wizards. They're split into melee, ranged, and siege units with their own damage scores, and you're trying to field an army with a higher combined total. Naturally, some cards have abilities like killing units, weakening them, bringing them back, drawing cards, and so on. It's interesting for splitting each match into a best-of-three without drawing extra cards between rounds, so you need to pick your battles carefully.

It was quite fun in TW3 but became a bit silly towards the end of the Gwent-related questlines, when the way to win was mostly to stuff your deck full of the most powerful cards and fling 'em at foes. I'm quite curious to see how well it's expanded and polished for a standalone game.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game will focus on multiplayer against real live opponents but will have a singleplayer story too. It'll be free-to-play, whenever it ends up launching.

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