Faction Identity #3: Nilfgaard
More than any other GWENT faction, Nilfgaard relies on diplomacy and subterfuge to disrupt enemy strategies and enact its own. The empire plants spies behind enemy lines to perform sabotage and reveal cards in the opponent’s hand. Well-aware of the benefits of power, Nilfgaardians target the strongest enemy units, crippling them or eliminating them altogether.
-Official Gwent homepage
The Empire of Nilfgaard
This week we will look into a very strong and domineering faction: Nilfgaard or “the black ones” as some people would call them due to their black, shiny armor.
Nilfgaard is a cunning and dangerous faction. They are not afraid to use controversial methods to get what they want. Order, discipline, dignity,diplomacy and strategy are the themes, which might describe “the black ones” the best.
The Nilfgaardian Empire is the largest and most powerful state located to the south of the Northern Kingdoms. The Nilfgaardians seek to conquer lands and spread their superior culture and civilization. The exact scale of the empire is never shown, but from clues within the Witcher lore it is safe to assume that it is by far the largest of the civilizations. The Nilfgardian are proud of their culture and demonstrate their superiority, power and knowledge whenever they can. To a Nilfgaardian all outsiders are barbarians, especially Skelligers.
Despite thinking very highly of themselves and being cruel in both their decisions and behaviour, Nilfgaardians are not as racist as the kingdoms in the Northern Realms. They acknowledge and even respect elves, dwarves, and witchers for the most part. Because of their domination and most of their power coming from conquered lands they are very commonly compared to the Rome empire from our time. Conquered lands are turned into “provinces”, usually ruled by locals as long as they submit themselves to the Emperor. People from these subjugated lands still see themselves as outsiders; only those born inside the boundaries of the motherland are true Nilfgardians. Nilfgaard is an absolute Monarchy led by an emperor. Emperors are also religious figureheads for Nilfgaard. They represent “the great sun” as high priest, which is where the sun symbol you can see on their armor, clothes and banner comes from. Since Nilfgaard in Gwent is also led by their emperors, we will have a closer look at their emperors and Gwent-Leaders Emhyr, Jan Calveit and Moovran.
Emhyr Van Emreis: 1257 — 1290
Few names in the Continent’s history arouse as much terror and respect as that of Emhyr var Emreis, Deithwen Addan yn Carn aep Morvudd – the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes. Emperor of Nilfgaard, lord of Metinna, Ebbing and Gemmera, sovereign of Nazair and Vicovaro, he was ruler of half the civilized world and aspiring conqueror of the other half. He was a personage whose deeds and decisions shaped the fates of whole kingdoms and populations.What then could he possible want of a simple witcher?
The emperor clearly and succinctly laid out what he wanted. His daughter and Geralt’s ward, Cirilla, was in great danger, for the Wild Hunt was on her trail. Geralt, a superb tracker linked to Emhyr’s daughter by the iron bonds of Destiny, stood a better chance of finding her than anyone else in the world.
-From Witcher 3 Journal Entry
Not only father to our dear Ciri, but also married to her. Well… not really her, just a mere fake Ciri. Emhyr found her in his search for his real daughter Ciri and after first abandoning her, ultimatively decided to marry her for political and unethetical reasons. From what we know of Nilfgaards emperors,Emhyr himself is a smart, ruthless, and brilliant leader. Within his time of ruling two separate wars broke out against the Northern Realms. In Gwent he is now able to take a card back into his hand and command a new card to be played from hand. His new implemented ability stands for him being a strong commander and tactical superiority.
**Morvran Voorhis: 1290-1301 **
Initially Joachim de Wett and others (Steffan Skellen for example) were planning to overthrow Emhyr as leader and place Morvran on the throne. Hint: This is also why Joachim De Wett, despite having been a commander for Emhyr is executed and displayed as disloyal card in Gwent.
Morvran himself is a man who thinks very highly and with dignity of himself. He would call himself a true Nilfgardian. He is also an expert when it comes to horses and is watching horse races regularly; in the Witcher 3 you are even able to ride against him. He has also been the commander of the Alba Division and had high impact on the third Northern War.
Jan Calveit: 1301 –>
Not much is known about Jan Calveit. He is mentioned in the books only in passing.
From Gwent presentation of him, we can speculate that he is a powerful and influencial leader and is more forgiving than Emhyr was in his aera (“I shall not repeat Emhyrs mistakes” ;- “I forgive you this time”)
Themes of Nilfgaard
Much like Skellige, Nilfgaard is a theme-driven faction. As mentioned earlier, order, discipline, dignity,diplomacy, infiltration and strategy are the key identities of Nilfgaard. Nilfgaard has a very efficient and proven way of winning their fights. Sending agents-> infiltrating and gaining information behind the enemy lines ->using gained information to their advantage for the next battle – conquering their foes.
In Gwent this is translated into mechanics like reveal, which is unique to Nilfgaard. This keyword shows a card in a players hand and is seen on many of the faction specific cards, including the leader ability of Morvran Voorhis. This mechanic synergizes with other cards getting stronger or dealing damage for each revealed card. While certainly a good transition from flavor to game concept, the mechanic is hard to evaluate in terms of how much value you really gain for revealing cards in your opponents hand. Rather unique to Nilfgard is also their way of gaining advantages by playing around their leaders and controlling the battlefield not just by pure damage or strength, but also by knowledge and structured units. The latter is displayed by Jon Calveit as their leader and cards like Skellen, Cantarella and Xarthesius, who are able to manipulate the order of your own and even your opponents deck. Knowledge is also gained by their spies infiltrating within the enemy lines. Nilfgaard has the highest amount of spies among any faction, even including bronze-spies. Another layer of Nilfgaards identity is their dignity and pride, which is displayed in the visuals of many cards. We can see many of their characters posing with their finely polished black armor or charging into battle and holding their banner high, showing their pride. In the visuals of Nilfgaard and especially their troops (bronze-cards) the conquering-theme is also very well represented with vastly different backgrounds for a lot of units, making it clear that they are representing a big area.
Faction-Identity #1: Introduction and explanation~ 02.05
Faction-Identity #2: Skellige ~ 09.05
Faction-Identity #3: Nilfgaard ~ 23.05
Faction-Identity #4:Northern Realms ~ 30.05
Faction-Identity #5: Scoia´tel ~06.05
Faction-Identity #6: Monster ~ 13.06