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Don’t let the name fool you- Thronebreaker is full-fledged The Witcher title and a perfect example on how to make a CCG singleplayer campaign

So, unless you've been living under a rock you should know that The Witcher 3 included a mini-game called "Gwent", a CCG (Collectable Card Game) where cards are got through the story and later used to win Gwent matches and eventually get all the decks, the same way you have poker in RDR, caravan in F:NV and whatever there is in other open world games nowdays. You should also know that Gwent turned out so addicting that many people joked and memed about Geralt of Rivia caring more about being the very best Gwent player that ever was than saving his daughter, waifu and other less important things like the world. Eventually CDPR decided to update Gwent and release it as a stand alone title to compete against Hearthstone, Magic the Gathering and alike.

Thing is, alongside with Gwent they released a single-player game called "Thronebreaker: the Witcher tales", as a spin-off to the main series. This game sold very poorly (partly due to lackluster marketing) and is unlikely to receive a sequel. Today I, a person who don't like the "freemium competitive games as services" others are so used to, want to convince you to give this a try.

First, I should point out that game doesn't play like Gwent. Here it is entirely PvE, and the game knows it. This means that the game has been modified (so in total there are like 3 versions of Gwent now) and many cards are ridiculously broken, both for and against you. It seemed to me like the enemy cards were more active, as if they were obviously used by an AI and expected you to counter their effect. One of the most obvious examples of this is Lippy Gudmund, an enemy you fight relatively early in the game. It has a power of 150, one of the highest levels with an average of 6-10 points per card. The trick is, every turn that card is attacked by and then attacks (a duel) the second highest card, so the winning tactic is to stay low and let the AI obliterate itself. This mechanic would be unthinkable in a PvP setting, but is rather interesting to see here. This changes your way to think about this challenges, more like riddles than actual card games, almost similar to a turn-based JRPG.

Secondly, following the JRPG metaphor, here you have an actual map where you move between figths. Every fights, may it be a regular gwent game or a more original puzzle, of which there are many, is meticulously created and even scripted, unlike FF or Pokemon random battles. The map is not "open", but there are side-quests and optional battles that allow you practise your skills, learn more lore, get resources or just have fun. Regarding resources, there are 3: money, wood and recruits, and are useful to upgrade your army, unlocking more cards, improving your existing ones and in general improving your deck, which can be customized as it is expected in these games.

Lastly, the point that will attract the die-hard Witcher fans: the story. Thronebreaker is different from any other CCG single-player training mode in that is features a cuasi-canon story within the Geralt of Rivia mythos. By that I mean, that it's the latest piece of fiction made for this world and thus doesn't influence the other works by either Sapkowki or CDPR (in other words, a spin-off) but doesn't contradict the stablished lore in any way, at least not that I realized.

I tells the story of Meve, Queen of Lyria and Rivia, a secondary character in the books, and someone entirely forgotten in the game trilogy. Without spoilers, Meve is of the Queens in the North, and her contribution to the Northern War II were invaluable to defeat Niilfgard. In the books, and supposedly in future seasons of the Netflix series, she commands and army and defeats the Dark Ones in a battle where she meets the White Wolf and knights him as "Geralt of Rivia" thanks to him saving her life. In a nutshell, this game is about how she, her loyal commander Reynard Odo, and others joined forces to destroy the Eastern Army and defeat the Chancelor, General and Duke Ardal aep Dahy.

I can't tell more without spoiling but I can say the CDPR lead writer was involved and this story has all the twist and turns expected from a Witcher original story. If you add gorgeus 2D graphics and more than decent soundtrack, I don't know what else will convince you.

tl,dr; If you like card games like Hearthstone and would like a competent singleplayer experience, play Thronebreaker. If you have played all the Witcher games and would like there to be a The Witcher 4, it exists and it's called Thronebreaker. If you are interested in The Witcher and don't know where to begin, Thronebreaker is a standalone experience (and if you buy it in Steam you get a copy of The Witcher 1 FREE) . And most important, if you're disappointed with CDPR because Cyberbugs (no kidding here, this is the second time I'm posting this because I just mentioned the full name of a game released less than 6 months ago. gotta love these bots), BUY Thronebreaker. Seriously, this game was carefully crafted and is beautiful, and it's a shame it went under the radar. It's like 40-50 hours long unless you want to go worth multiple runs and very well worth it. It costs the same as TW3, I think, so wait for Steam sales if you're patient (which you are). CDPR is a great company, but should be rewarded for the gems it makes right, not an unfinished mess like Cyberbugs.


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