|Important Items in this Area|
|Tibor Eggebracht Card||Vernon Roche Card|
|Havekar Smuggler Card||Eredin, Bringer of Death Card|
|Mahakaman Defender Card||Mahakaman Defender Card|
|Vrihedd Brigade Veteran Card||Dol Blathanna Archer Card|
|Havekar Healer Card||Catapult Card|
|Change Your Life! A Handbook||Morvran Voorhis Card|
|Letho of Gulet Card||Francesca Findabair: The Beautiful Card|
|Crone Weavess Card|
|Gwent Players in this Area|
|Alchemist - Random Card||Marquise Serenity - Morvran Voorhis Card|
|Blacksmith - Random Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Blacksmith - Random Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Boatwright - Letho of Gulet Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Eternal Fire Priest - Random Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Haddy - Vernon Roche Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Innkeep - Random Card||Merchant - Random Card|
|Innkeep - Random Card||Old Sage - Crone: Weavess Card|
|Loan Shark - Random Card||Olivier - Tibor Eggebracht Card|
|Marcus T.K. Hodgson - Random Card|
You now have access to central Novigrad unimpeded by random cutscenes cropping up. Now is as good of a time as any to explore central Novigrad… and while you’re at it you can focus on advancing the all important Gwent side quests. There are a lot of them which can be started (and finished) here. If you have no interest in Gwent, skip ahead to "The Dreamer and Dandelion ".
First up, you need to finish the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps". It just so happens that the third and final target is nearby in Novigrad. Return to Hierarch Square and head north to the signpost along the north-eastern end of the plaza. Head up the stairs behind the signpost to enter the rather high-end tavern named "The Kingfisher." Inside you’ll find Olivier, the Innkeep. Play him and you’ll win the "Tiborof Eggebracht" card, a 10 Strength Ranged Unit Card for Nilfgaardian decks. He will also sell a "Havekar Smuggler" card, a "Mahakaman Defender" card, a "Vrihedd Brigade Veteran" card, and a "Havekar Healer" card, should your Scoia’tael deck need some improvements.
|For defeating Olivier at Gwent||25 XP / Tibor Eggebracht Card|
So ends the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" but you’ve another Gwent quest to complete. After beating the Bloody Baron you should have begun the quest "Gwent: Velen Players" . These guys can be more of a challenge than the Innkeeps were, so now, finally, it’s time to discuss some advanced Gwent strategy.
First, the Northern Kingdoms Deck should be all you need. It’s not the only one that can win, but by now it’s probably the most well-developed deck you have. The note-worthy unit cards you should have by now include "Yennefer of Vengerberg", "Prince Stennis", "Crinfrid Reavers Dragon Hunter" (x3), "Dun Banner Medic", "Sigismund Dijkstra" and "Blue Stripes Commando" (x3). In addition to these your deck should be enhanced by three "Decoy" cards, three "Commander’s Horn" cards, and perhaps a "Clear Weather" card. The best leader card to use, arguably, is "Foltest, Lord Commander of the North", as it gives you a free "Clear Weather" effect once per game, which is a good safety net. On top of all that, stack your deck with the strongest unit cards you have. It’s hard to gauge exactly what else you might have, since card drops from playing random merchants is random-if you’re lucky you might have the "Villentretenmerth" card, or even "Phillipa Eilhart".
The strategy is simple, use your "Tight Bond" cards and "Commander’s Horn" 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 easily out-power, especially if they pair, say, Vampire cards and Crone cards with "Commander’s Horns" or "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’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. Both Prince Stennis (5 Strength) and Sigismund Dijkstra (4 Strength) are passable at this task.
When you throw "Decoy" cards into the mix, however, things get really fun. If an enemy uses a Spy 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, you can use it to great effect against Monster decks, as its special ability (works like "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" cards, Crone cards, and Vampire cards… fine. But your dragon will have a field day with them, and leave them with nothing.
All these special cards can be somewhat cumbersome, however. If you get too many "Decoy" cards and "Commander’s Horn" cards, 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.
Playing Random Gwent Players
Of course, all of these tactics are useless if you don’t have strong enough cards. If you’ve done everything suggested in the walkthrough so far, you should be fine… but it never hurts to score more cards. You should have played all the merchants in Oxenfurt (the Blacksmith and Armorer are very challenging foes, so if you skipped them, it’s fine to come back after the next Gwent quest "Gwent: Velen Players" ) of which there were four, including Stjepen, the innkeep who was part of the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" . Other players from southern Velen include the Innkeep at the Inn at the Crossroads (also part of the quest "Gwent: Playing Innkeeps" ), the three merchants in Crow’s Perch, the two in Blackbough, there are three in Lindenvale, two in Midcopse, and Oreton and Downwarren both had one merchant to play. Finally, if you rescued the Merchant from the Bandit’s Camp/Person(s) in Distress event east of Oreton (north or Drudge) you could have returned to Claywich and played that Merchant, too.
If that’s not enough, there are more merchants you can play in Novigrad… quite a few more, in fact. You recently played the Innkeeps at Cunny of the Goose and the Seven Cat’s Inn, as well as the elven merchant Elihal in the nonhuman district and the Herbalist and Madame in the docks district, not to mention the Merchant in the Putrid Square during the quest "Pyres of Novigrad" .
In addition to all that, there are two Blacksmiths, two Innkeeps, a Loan Shark (who sells the book "Change Your Life! A Handbook" - buy it from him to save yourself the hassle later) and six Merchants in the central part of Novigrad, not to mention a Priest of the Eternal Flame in the upper district and an Alchemist in a hut outside the city, in a house to the north-east of the Arette signpost. You can also play Gwent with the Nilfgaardian Nobleman back in Vizima, who should now be easier to manage. This rundown doesn’t include every Gwent player in Velen/Novigrad, but it does account for a vast majority of the ones you have access to right now.
The cards you’ll get from these random merchants are random, but can include a host of really great cards, the best of which at this point in the game is probably the "Villentretenmerth" card. You can save/load matches until you get the card you want, but it’s arguably better to just play as many people as you can. Gwent cards from merchants are random, but they also come from a finite pool. Each merchant can only give you one card, but on the bright side, if you get a junk card from one, you’re more likely to get something better from the next one. When you’ve played all the random merchants in the game, you’ll stop gaining any new, random cards from playing Gwent. There are more random merchants to play Gwent with than there are random Gwent cards, so don’t worry about finding every single one. It should be noted that you won’t be able to complete your collection of random Gwent cards until you reach Skellige.
Gwent: Velen Players
When you’re done playing random folk, it’s time for more running around. First head to Oreton and find the Boatwright, who you should challenge to a game of Gwent. His deck is a decent, but not exceptional, Nilfgaardian deck. He’s got plenty of 10 Strength cards, and he might play "Scorch" but otherwise, he’s a fairly easy win, and coughs up the "Letho of Gulet" Hero Card when he loses.
|For defeating the Boatwright at Gwent||25 XP / Letho of Gulet Card|
Monster Nest(s) (level 9)
Next up is the the Old Sage in Benek, which is east of Reardon Manor, and this gives you a fine excuse to finish off more exploration in eastern Velen, which was previously neglected for this trip. Fast-travel to the Reardon Manor and make your way east along a road to find some fields liberally littered with Monster Nests. These nests are all guarded by Nekkers (level eight) and the odd Nekker Warrior (level nine). Kill the guardians, blow up the nests, and loot the remains. There are four nests in total. Near the eastern-most nest, you’ll find a sacked caravan with some containers you can loot.
|For destroying the Monster Nest(s)||20 XP (each)|
Gert Borel’s Blight
If you encountered him earlier, you’ll find Gert Borel again at a ruined house surrounded by all the Nekker nests. He was certain he was plague-proof… but he was wrong, and now he’s looking for somebody to put him out of his misery. Either refuse, at which point he’ll ask you to leave him in peace, or agree to put an end to his suffering to get an XP reward.
After destroying (or bypassing, as it suits you) the Monster Nests continue east to reach Benek, where you can find the Old sage along the northern end of the south-westernmost building. Talk to him and challenge him to game of cards (ignoring his quest, for now). He uses a fairly potent Monster deck. Count on him exploiting cards with the "Muster" ability and using the special ability of "Eredin, King of the Wild Hunt" to double the strength of his Close Combat Unit cards. He’s also got a "Scorch" card up his sleeves. When you defeat him you’ll earn the "Crone: Weavess" Card, a mid-Strength card with the "Muster" ability.
|For defeating the Old Sage at Gwent||25 XP / Crone: Weavess Card|
Next head to Midcopse and look for Haddy, the ten year old Gwent Savant. Play him and you’ll find that he’s got a sturdy deck of cards, but nothing insurmountable. Trounce him and you’ll get two cards; "Vernon Roche" and "Eredin, Bringer of Death" . Can’t go wrong with a 10 Strength Hero Card for the Northern Kingdoms. As for the Leader Card… eh.
|For defeating Haddy at Gwent||25 XP / Vernon Roche Card / Eredin, Bringer of Death Card|
Gwent: Big City Players
Once that’s all done, head to Novigrad, where you’ll want to continue with the "Gwent: Big City Players" quest. You should have already defeated Vimme Vivaldi during the quest "Pyres of Novigrad", which would have started this quest. If not, find him in the south-western corner of Hierarch Square and relieve him of his "Vesemir" card, and start this quest properly.
Once done, head over to the Passiflora, which is a high-end brothel just north-east of the "St. Gregory’s Bridge" signpost and play Marquise Serenity. She plays a fairly mundane Nilfgaardian deck, stacked with weather effects, which can be easily countered with "Foltest, Lord Commander of the North" or "Clear Weather". When she loses she’ll cough up the "Morvran Voorhis" Card, a 10 Strength Hero Card, and a fine addition to any Nilfgaardian deck. She’ll also suggest your next challenge. Beating her postpones the quest "Gwent: Big City Players" , which you’ll pick up later when you advance the main story further. Before you go, be sure to buy her "Mahakaman Defender" Card, her "Dol Blathanna Archer" Card, and most of all, her "Catapult" Card. The first two are mediocre Scoia’tael cards, but the last is an 8 Strength Siege Combat card with the "Tight Bond" ability for the Northern Kingdoms.
|For defeating Marquise Serenity at Gwent||25 XP / Morvran Voorhis Card|
Note: Marquise Serenity is a useful merchant for selling junk to, as she’ll readily buy jewelry, pelts, and garbage nobody in their right mind has any reason to part with a single Crown for (ashes, rotten meat, glass, etc.). Not only does she offer relatively good prices for these things, but she’s near a signpost (ease of access) and regularly stocks a healthy bit of money (usually over 1,000 Crowns). Simply put, if it can’t be broken down into something more useful, see if Marquise Serenity will offer any Crowns for it.
Note: This technically "ends" the quest "Gwent: Big City Players" , but it’ll resume once you meet this elusive Sigi Rueven character. Since it technically (albeit prematurely) counts as ended here, you may be rewarded with the "Francesca Findabair: The Beautiful" card here ahead of when you’re normally supposed to get it - at the legitimate end of the quest.