Ok, so first off, let it be known that at the time of writing this, the game is technically still in beta form and is not the complete experience that will later be available to players. But, the product at hand is advanced enough and entertaining enough that I thought it would be accurate and informative to go ahead and review the experience you can get from Gwent today.
The fun now is very much alike it was in The Witcher 3. You have 3 rows divided between close combat units, ranged units such as soliders equipped with ranged weaponry like bow and arrows, and the long range row originally meant for machines or ballista units that fire projectiles over a radius. Now, its funny that they even went to the trouble of classifying these rows again because the big difference here as opposed to the original Gwent on the Witcher 3 is that you can place any unit on any row you please, where as in the original, you could not. This kinda defeats the purpose of even bothering to classify each row, and in a sense it does take a little away from the strategic planning the original carried with it. That being said, it does not hinder the game from being just as fun and challenging as always.
When you transition from the Witcher 3's version of Gwent to this, probably the first thing you will notice is the plethora of different units for each faction there are. Once again, the factions are Monster, which holds a formidable array of powerful and special cards, Skellige faction, which is my least favorite among the factions but nonetheless has a huge fanbase and can make some powerful decks. Northern Realms makes a return and they consist of about what you would expect, (as a matter of fact a lot of returning cards from the original Gwent are present in this deck). The Scoiatael or Elf and Dwarf units make a classic return and is among the most played by opponents. And last but not least, the revered Nilfgaardian Empire faction which has its number of spy and assassin units that can put any enemy to shame if wielded wisely.
So, you now see the factions and another HUGE upgrade to this version is the classification of the different units in each faction. Each faction has a set number of bronze cards which are the lowest and weakest of the units, Silver cards which come in tons of different variety and strengths, and then the strongest and most rewarding cards, the leader units aka the Gold Cards. Geralt and Yennefer for example, make up several of their own different Gold Card units. Its a simple system and it is effective.
Ok, the arena mode that is available lets players draw random choices of different selections of a random amount of Gold units, Silver units, and Bronze units and the two players put each other's chosen deck to war and whoever emerges victorious walks away with several rewarding goodies. If you can manage to defeat 10 human opponents without losing 3 times or more in a run you can walk away with a huge pile of rewarding cards and units to add to your collection. Its fun to pass the time with.
Alas, all the fun it is, there are also a few negative features in my opinion. Right now, CD Project Redd has yet to set a limit on how many cards each player has to put in a match (they limit all players to 30 cards total) but there is no limit to how many of those 30 you want to actually play. So, to take advantage of this, alot of low down players are taking their weakest and least desired units out of that 30 and leaving only their strongest Gold & silver units in, which takes the fun out of a fair match and causes very predictable and repetitive results. Whereas if both players come in with their decks 30 strong (like its SUPPOSED to be), the results are unpredictable and wild and fun and usually come down to the last card with unknowing excitement. With both players decks at 30, it takes away the same overly strong units dominating every time and lets players put all their units to to the tee. I have all my decks at 30 but I run across lots of players who have lessened their decks to 13 or 15 simply to get the desired higher cards every time. Its unfair and not fun when you have players who will resort to such low playing standards.
That being said, Gwent is tons of fun and will please any fans of the original from the Witcher 3, and sure, there are a few loose ends needing tied up here and there, but no doubt CD Project Redd will fix these issues in future updates and the game will only get better. If anyone respects the players desires and wants their fans to be pleased, its Cd Projekt Redd. So, download and enjoy!!! Did i mention it was free???