What's Gwent? It's a card game in The Witcher 3, of course. You have four decks of cards you can play, but most of them, save the Northern Realms deck, start out lacking a suitable assortment of cards required to play. Unit cards have a Strength score, which is added to your total Strength when played. The player who has the most Strength at the end of the match wins. Simple enough. Below you'll find a discussion of the Gwent-related quests in the game, deck-specific strategies, general strategies, and other information
Basic Gwent Strategies
Cards are further divided by type-Close Combat, Ranged Combat, Siege Combat, Weather Cards, Special Cards, and Leader Cards. Leader Cards don't directly contribute to your Strength, but rather they typically allow you to perform one special action (add or remove a Weather effect) or add a passive bonus. Weather Cards set the Strength of all units cards of a specific type (Close Combat, Ranged, Siege, etc.) down to one for all players. This being the case, it's wise to build your deck with two things in mind-at least, at first: pick the strongest cards you have, and diversify your unit types so you can't be completely crippled by any one Weather Card. Having a Clear Weather Card also helps.
Every time you beat another Gwent player for the first time-with very few exceptions-you'll win one of their cards. Typically you can play Innkeeps, Merchants, Blacksmiths, Armorers, Traders, and other peddlers. The cards you'll win from random players are selected from a pool of random cards that vary greatly in quality. The Gwent players you play in various quests, however, give static drops, and a good deal of your stronger unit cards will come from completing these quests and defeating these Gwent players. You can also buy cards from Innkeeps, which is essential in the early-going, as they build your fledgling deck up with a minor investment of crowns.
Gwent in White Orchard
You only have one character you can play in White Orchard-the Scholar in the tavern who gives you your first cards. Beating him gets you the "Zoltan Chivay" Card. Be sure to also buy the three "Decoy" Cards, the "Catapult" Card, the "Blue Stripes Commando" Card, and the "Crinfried Reavers Dragon Hunter" Card from the Innkeep in White Orchard-all of these are indispensable for the Northern Kingdoms deck.
Northern Kingdoms Strategies
The Northern Kingdoms deck is the first you'll have enough cards to play with, and it's arguably the strongest. Not only does it get a fine "Medic" card in the form of the "Dun Banner Medic" . The Leader Card "Foltest, Lord Commander of the North" also acts as a free "Clear Weather" card once per game, which is nice to have in reserve. Aside from that, the Northern Kingdoms deck gets the best (and most) "Spy" cards-especially useful when they can be used to added effect in combination with the "Decoy" card. Add on top of that the three excellent "Tight Bond" sets- "Blue Stripes Commando" Cards (x3), "Crinfrid Reavers Dragon Hunter" Cards (x3), and "Catapult" Cards (x2) and you have the possibility of wracking up some awesome unit Strength.
Abusing the combination of "Commanders Horn" Cards and "Tight Bond" Cards is enough to win most games of Gwent. Once you start using "Decoy" cards along with "Spy" cards to fatten your hand (improving the chances you'll get more matched "Tight Bond" Cards), the Northern Kingdoms deck becomes almost unbeatable. The Northern Kingdoms deck by default has the ability to draw one extra card when you win a round-spamming "Spy"/"Decoy" Cards on the first round will often give your opponent a comfortable lead, which will make them forfeit, rather than waste more cards. Since you've been drawing more cards with the "Spy"/"Deocy" spam, however, you can surpass your opponent without wasting too many cards-then draw another one and be in a great spot to go over on the next round. Keep your Unit Cards at or around the 22 card minimum, stack your deck with "Tight Bond" cards (excluding "Poor Fucking Infantry" -they're not worth it even if you draw all four of them) and you'll be fine.
Gwent in Velen
Velen opens things up a bit-you'll start the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" after defeating the Scholar in White Orchard, which runs through all of Velen. Your first target should be the Innkeep at the Inn at the Crossroads, which you'll visit during the quest "The Nilfgaardian Connection" . Beating him will get you the "Menno Coehoorn" Hero Card, and he also sells the "Siege Engineer" the "Imperia Bridgade" Card the "Nausicaa Cavalry Rider" Card and "Emhyr Var Emreis, Emperor of Nilfgaard" Card.
This will boost our Nilfgaardian deck a bit, but not enough to make it viable, and having two weak decks isn't as useful as having one good one. Next up, visit the Bloody Baron during the quest... "Bloody Baron" ... from whom you can win the "Sigismund Dijkstra" Card, which has the useful "Spy" ability. This also starts the quest "Gwent: Velen Players" .
Now is a fine time to visit villages in Velen and defeat random players at Gwent to win equally random card-playing merchants in Crow's Perch, Claywich, Blackbough, Midcopse, Oreton, Downwarren, and Benek. While doing this, make sure you head to the "Person(s) in Distress" Event on an islandd east of Claywich, where you'll find some Bandits. Kill the Bandit Leader (level six) and loot a "Bandit's Key" off his body, then use the key to free a nearby Merchant. Travel to anotheor map area, then return to Velen and the Merchant will have made his way to Claywich. Not only can you play Gwent with him, but you can buy the "Etolian Auxiliary Archers" Card, the "Black Infantry Archer" Card, "Crinfrid Reavers Dragon Hunter" Card, the "Puttkammer" Card and the "Sweers" Card. "Puttkammer" and "Sweers" are unique, if useless, and the "Black Infantry Archers" Card and "Crinfried Reavers Dragon Hunter" Card are both great boons to the Nilfgaardian deck and Northern Kingdoms deck, respectively.
Once you've obtained some new, random cards, continue with "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" by defeating Stjepen, the Innkeep in Oxenfurt. If you progress far enough in the Bloody Baron questline you'll get a pass giving you access to the city... but you can also complete the quests "Fake Papers" (and possibly "Bitter Harvest" ) or "Contract: Woodland Beast" to gain access to Oxenfurt (and Novigrad for that matter). Or... you can just swim to either city. Entering via the front gates is a luxury, not a necessity.
Anyways, defeat Stjepen for the "Yennefer of Vengerburg" Hero Card, a neutral card that can do good in any deck. It also has the "Medic" ability, making it a card you'll want to keep for the rest of the game. There's also a Merchant, and Armorer, and a Blacksmith you can play in Oxenfurt for random cards, but the latter two are not push-overs. Finally, be sure to the "Dwarven Skirmisher" "Mahakaman Defender" "Vrihedd Brigade Veteran" and "Commanders Horn" Cards from the Innkeeper (remember to return here once in a while-you can score a total of three "Commanders Horn" Cards from him in total). You're going to want to add those "Commander's Horn" Cards to your deck, as they make quite a potent combo when used in tandem with cards with the "Tight Bond" ability.
All that's left to do now is finish up the quest "Gwent: Velen Players" and score some more unique cards. First visit the Boatwright in Oreten and take his "Letho of Gulet" Card, then head far to the east to Benek to find an Old Sage who will pass along the "Crone: Weavess" Card. Finally, ruin the day of the child prodigy Haddy, who lives in Midcopse, which will earn you the "Vernon Roche" Card-another fine addition to the Norther Kingdoms deck. Now it's time to turn our attention to Novigrad, where you'll find new Merchants to play on nearly every street corner... or, well, maybe not that many, but still quite a few. First, however, let's discuss how to put your new cards to use..
The Northern Kingdoms Deck should be all you need-it's not the only one that can win, but it'll be the first one you start to get decent cards for, and in the long run, it's probably has the best selection of cards in the game. The strategy with this deck is simple-use your Tight Bond cards and "Commander's Horn" cards to pummel lesser decks into submission. Crude, but effective. More powerful opponents won't be so easily defeated, however. Monster decks, particularly, can use cards with the "Muster" ability to summon up a host of (usually Close Combat Unit) cards that even the Northern Kingdoms deck can't out-power, especially if they pair, say, Vampire cards and Crone cards with "Commander's Horns" and "Eredin, King of the Wild Hunt" .
More advanced strategies revolve around the smart use of cards with the "Medic" and "Spy" abilities. Both are simple enough-play a Medic card and you can raise another non-hero unit card. Play a "Spy" card and you get to draw two cards at the cost of adding that "Spy" Card's Strength to your opponent's total. With a powerful deck full of "Decoy" , "Tight Bond", and high-powered unit cards, this is worth the trade-off, but weaker "Spy" cards are, in this case, more useful than stronger ones.
When you throw "Decoy" cards into the mix, however, things get really fun. If an enemy uses a "Spy" Card on you, use "Decoy" to bring that card into your deck, then play it back at them, nullifying their advantage. Use "Decoy" on a "Medic" card, then play it again to revive another card. Especially useful for playing cards with "Tight Bond" in an earlier round, then recycling them in later rounds. If you have the "Villentretenmerth" card (a random card you can win-probably the best of all random cards out there), you can use it to great effect against Monster decks, as its special ability (Scorch-but only on enemy close combat cards, and only against them if they have ten or more Strength in that row). Just play him, kill the enemy's stronger close combat units, then use "Decoy" , and play him again. If those pesky Monster Decks want to use "Commander's Horn" , Crones, and Vampire cards... fine. But our dragon will have a field day with them, and leave them with nothing.
All these special cards can be somewhat cumbersome-if you get too many "Decoys" and "Commander's Horns" , and too few unit cards, you could find yourself in more trouble than you'd be without them... but against more sophisticated opponents, such a risk is necessary, and using Spy cards to draw large hands should help ensure that you end up with whatever you need to win.
Gwent in Novigrad
Play all the Merchants you can find to fill out your deck a bit-scoring the "Phillipa Eilhart" card would be a fine boon to your Northern Kingdoms deck, but the real card to look out for is "Villentretenmerth" , which can absolutely wreck Monster decks-which are going to become more popular in the hands of your opponents. Be sure to visit towns around Novigrad to defeat merchants and buy cards from Innkeeps-most of the former reside in Novigrad, but the latter makes up for it.
At Cunny of the Goose you can buy the "Impera Brigade Guard" Card, a "Young Emissary" Card, the "Francesca Findabair, Daisy of the Valley" Card, a "Havekar Healer" Card and a "Scorch" Card. The latter card will be restocked until you've accumulated three of them. From the Innkeep at the Seven Cats Inn you can buy the "Impera Brigade Guard" Card, the "Young Emissary" Card, the "Havekar Smuggler" Card and "Mahakaman Defender" Card.
Once done, with beating random merchants and buying cards, head to the Kingfisher in Novigrad and defeat Olivier-the innkeep, to win the "Tiborof Eggebracht" Hero Card and finish off the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" . Then buy a "Havekar Smuggler" Card, a "Mahakaman Defender" Card, a "Vrihedd Brigade Veteran" Card, and a "Havekar Healer" Card to improve your Scoia'tael deck.
Now find Vimme Vivaldi in the south-western corner of Hierarch Square and beat him at Gwent to win the "Vesemir" Card. Not a great card, but it does start the quest "Gwent: Big City Players" which will force us to make progress in various main-and-side quests. Next head to the Passiflora and defeat Marquise Serenity to win the "Morvran Voorhis" Card.
Your Nilfgaardian deck shold be well developed enough to be worth discussing now. Honestly, consider it a varient of the Northern Kingdoms deck. It has more "Medic" cards, but they're also weaker ones. Its "Tight Bond" cards are decidedly inferior in Strength and number, and its "Spy" cards-while more numerous at the start, are also have quite a bit more Strength. Compare "Stefan Skellen" (9 Strength), "Shilard Fitz-Oesterien" (7 Strength) and "Vattier de Rideaux" (4 strength) with "Prince Stennis" (5 strength), "Sigismund Dijkstra" (4 Strength) and "Thaler" (1 Strength).
The one boon the Nilfgaardian Deck has early on is brute unit Strength-it has several 10 Strength unit Cards, like "Black Infantry Archer" (x2) and "Heavy Zerrikanian Fire Scorpion" . All in all, the Nilfgaardian deck is servicable enough, especially if you can exploit the deck's brute Strength with "Commander's Horn" cards and carry over your best non-Hero cards from round to round with "Medic" cards. Again, keep your Unit cards at or around the 22 card limit.
You can ignore the "Nausicaa Cavalry Rider" Cards-they have "Tight Bond", but even the three of them together won't be overwhelmingly powerful, and it's better to just keep your deck small and try to get the better "Tight Bond" cards, like "Young Emissary" or even "Impera Brigade Guard" , or the high-Strength Hero and non-hero cards Nilfgaard has so many of. The special bonus the Nilfgaard deck gets is it wins any rounds where the score is tied... which... eh, once in a while might come in handy
More Gwent in Novigrad
Now it's time to mix questing and Gwent. Complete the quests "Novigrad Dreaming" and "Broken Flowers" , then play Gwenr with Zoltan Chivay to with the "Eithne" Hero Card. This starts the quest "Gwent: Old Pals" and gives us more targets to play. Visit the "Temerian Partisan Hideout" and defeat Vernon Roche to gain his "Saesenthessis" Card. Our Scoia'tael deck is improving nicely, but it still needs work.
Complete the quest "Count Reuven's Treasure" during (and after) which you'll be able to play Sigismund Dijkstra to win the "Esterad Thyssen" Card-a Hero Card for the Northern Kingdoms deck. After defeating Dijkstra, he'll tell you about an elf you can play. This guy happens to be located at an unmarked Scoia'tael camp south of the "Logger's Hut" signpost, which itself is south-west of Novigrad. Defeat him to win the awesome "Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon" Card-a neutral 15 Strength Hero Card, and the less awesome, but still welcome "Francesca Findabair, the Beautiful" Card.
Progress further in the main story by completing "Get Junior" , "The Play's the Thing" and "Poet Under Pressure" to get the quest "A Dangerous Game" from Zoltan Chivay. During this quest you'll get three unique cards: "Isengrim Faoiltiarna" , "John Natalis" and "Fringilla Vigo" , the first being a 10 Strength Hero Card for Scoai'tael decks, the second being a 10 Strength Hero Card for the Northern Kingdoms, while the third is... well... less interesting. At the end of the quest be sure to take the cards instead of the coin-you'll get as much coin selling off a single suit of junk armor later on, but those cards are priceless.
During the quest "A Matter of Life and Death" you'll get a totally optional opportunity to play Gwent at the masquerade. Win three rounds in succession to win the "Milva" Card, the "Vampire: Bruxa" Card, and the "Dandelion" Card. All three are good cards- "Milva" is a 10 Strength non-Hero Card with "Morale Boost" while "Dandelion" is a 2 Strength neutral card that acts as "Commander's Horn" Card when played. After the quest "Now or Never" you'll get the quest "A Deadly Plot" where you'll be able play Thaler and win the "Geralt of Rivia " Card-a 15 Strength Hero Card that can go in all decks.
We now have enough cards to make a passable Scoia'tael deck... which requires a different approach than the Nilfgaard and Northern Kingdoms decks. The Scoia'tael has no Siege Unit Cards, no "Tight Bond" Cards, and no native "Spy" Cards. which makes "Decoy" less effective here. They do, however, have some "Medic" Cards-albeit 0 Strength ones, but it's enough to do the "Decoy"/"Medic" spam.
What The Scoia'tael are really about are their "Muster" Cards-play one, you summon all the rest of that Card. This does have some limitations, however-they are all Close Combat Unit Cards (hence are vulnerable to "Villentretenmerth" , and loading your deck with them-while obviously useful-can also backfire if you get too many in your hand at once. The Nilfgaardian and Northern Kingdom decks are best kept small (around the 22 Unit Card minimum) but the Scoia'tael deck can survive being padded with extra Unit Cards. Try to ensure you get some "Muster" Cards in your hand... but not too many of the same type.
Fortunatley, to this end, the Scoia'tael Deck has many decent 6 strength "Agile" Cards, which can be played in the Close Combat Unit row or the Ranged Unit row. Six of them, in fact. Paired with either "Milva" or "Isengrim Faoiltiarna" -two powerful "Morale Boost" Cards, these all become 7 Strength Cards, and with "Commander's Horn" ... you're in a good place. A decent strategy is to include all your Hero Cards (of course), the "Dwarven Skirmisher" Cards, the "Havekar Smuggler" Cards, whatever "Medic" Card you have, and the 6 Strength "Agile" Cards-having closer to 25/30 Unit Cards won't hurt the Scoia'tael deck.
The Scoia'tael special ability is choosing who gets to go first... Responding to the enemy usually seems easier than taking the lead, but it's not a huge boon either way.
Difficulty-wise, this is the hardest Gwent quest in the game, so we should save it for last. Chronologically-wise, it's in Novigrad, and it can be done with the cards we currently have. Head to the Passiflora-picking up the notice "High Stakes Gwent Tournament" is optional. Here you can start the quest "High Stakes Gwent" by entering a tournament. Pay the entrance fee of 1000 Crowns and save when you can. These games are difficult-especially the first two rounds. First, defeat Barnard Tulle to win the "Foltest, the Steel-Forged" Card. Siding with Sasha is optional, but defeating her at Gwent isn't. Win and you'll get the "Emhyr var Emreis, the Relentless" Card. You'll have to play your third foe, Finneas, without saving, but he's much easier than Sasha. Win and you'll get the "Francesca Findabair, Queen of Dol Blathanna" Card. Defeat him in a fist-fight (this shouldn't be too hard, despite his level. Just parry and counter until he falls) then play Count Tybalt, who is the easist of the four. After you win you'll get the "Eredin, Destroyer of Worlds" Card. Finish the quest-let Sasha do most of the work and fight defensively and you'll be fine.
Gwent in Skellige
Whew. One more leg of quests left. With the cards you have now, you should be all but invincible, and aside from a few "Spy" Cards, your Northern Kingdoms deck is all but done. Before you start "Destination: Skellige" , start the quest "Following the Thread" by picking up the notice "Contract: Monster in the Bits"... or by just heading to a warehouse east of Novigrad, just east of the "Arette" signpost. Work with Lambert until he sends you to Skellige, at which point finish off "Destination" Skellige" ..
New area, new random merchants to play, new quest to complete, new cards to buy. If you were fairly thorough about playing random merchants in Velen/Novigrad, you shouldn't need to play too many characters in Skellige to collect all the random cards. Pick up the notice "Gwent Lessons" in Kaer Trolde to start the quest "Gwent: Skellige Style" , then hit the villages to win random cards
Make stops at the Kaer Trolden tavern and buy the "Earth Elemental" Card, the "Eredin, King of the Wild Hunt" Card and the "Botchling" Card. Then visit the Innkeeper in Arinbjorn who sells the coveted, wonderful "Thaler" Card, the "Crone: Whispess" Card, the "Fiend" Card, and an "Arachas" Card. In Svorlag (an island north-west of Ard Skellig) you'll be able to buy the "Ice Giant" Card, the "Arachas" Card, the "Vampire: Ekimmara" Card, and the "Foglet" Card from the Innkeep. Finally, go to an island north-east of Ard Skellig to find Uriallia Harbor, where the Innkeep will sell an "Arachas" Card, a " Werewolf" Card, and an "Elven Skirmisher" Card.
Finally, we have enough cards to make a passable Monster deck. This deck takes a while to get into place, since many of its better cards on are Skellige, and because it relies heavily on "Muster" Cards, which, like "Tight Bond" Cards require you to have many of the same type to be effective. The Monster deck has no "Spy" Cards, no "Medic" Cards, and few Siege Unit Cards. It focuses primarily on one tactic-brute Strength through overwhelming numbers of "Muster" Cards. The chief "Muster" sets are the "Crone", "Vampire" and "Arachas" sets. Combined with "Commander's Horn" Cards, this is a simple, yet effective strategy. Consider throwing some "Scorch" Cards in this deck, to counter possible "Tight Bond" combos from other decks. "Decoy" is less effective with this deck than with other decks, due to its lack fo "Medic" and "Spy" cards. The special ability of the Monster deck is to retain one card at random between rounds.
Finishing Up the Collection
Complete the quests "The King is Dead - Long Live the King" and "Echoes of the Past" , after which decline to travel with Yennefer and instead talk to Ermion and play Gwent with him. Win the "Leshen" Card, and also advance the quest "Gwent: Skellige Style" . Next beat Crach for his "Draug" Card, then take the "Yaevinn" Card from Sjusta. Gremist will yield the his "Avallac'h" Card-the best spy in the game-once defeated. Finally, beat Madman Lugos to score the "Vampire: Katakan" Card and the "Emhyr var Emreis, the White Flame" Card and finish off "Gwent: Skellige Style" .
Along the eastern end of Ard Skellige you'll find the tree Gedyneith-and its two signposts. Near here you can start the quest "Shock Therapy" , which, if you complete it, you'll be rewarded with the "Iorveth" Card. Not too many left, now. Sail to Harviken and buy the "Nekker" Card, the "Vampire: Fleder" Card, the "Harpy" Card, and the "Ghoul" Card from the Innkeep here. Once done, head to the eastern end of the island to find Hammond. Kill him and take his "Nekker" Card, then return to the Nowhere Inn in Novigrad to find Lambert. Talk to him, then beat him at Gwent to score the "Triss Merigold" Card-which, if you've done everything above and play enough random merchants-should complete your Gwent collection.