** Faction Identity:**
Identity is what makes a certain faction feel unique among the others, and distinguishes it from them. Faction identity in most cases is defined by three key components: recognizability, identification and synergy.
Those things can be achieved by the following elements in card design:
– Visuals, which are quickly **recognizable **and in line with the general faction design and lore
–**Identification **through a known element within the Game, or from the cards role within the Witcher Universe
– **Synergy **between abilities, archetypes, and general faction aspects
Visually, the most basic example of faction identity are the faction colors. Players and Spectators alike quickly learn to identify that Northern Realms is blue, Monsters are red, etc. Aside from Skellige, these identifying colors were specifically chosen due to their place in the Witcher lore and universe.
The second visual queue of a faction are its leaders. They play a very important role for the faction identity through both mechanics and lore. Nearly every leader brings a unique archetype or strategy to a faction. King Bran, for example, is a pivotal piece in the Discard archetype within Skellige, and is unique in his ability to support this strategy. From a lore perspective, most leaders are key figures within the Witcher universe. The three Northern Realms options were all kings from various areas of the Northern Realms. Similarly, the Skellige leaders are the heads of clans on Skellige.
The Leaders the very important role in the Witcher lore and represent their specific region.
In most cases they have been Kings or had a similar position. Some of them have played an important role in the Witcher story or at least for their region.
We will go further with the leaders then talking about the factions in specific.
Problem-Child: Neutral Cards?
Neutral cards represent a unique problem when discussing faction identity and archetypes. Due to their ability to be placed in any deck, they are rarely tied to a specific faction or region. They also have to be balanced carefully. If they are too powerful, they become staple cards throughout the entire game, endangering the unique identities of each faction. This is why in many cases faction specific cards are allowed to be stronger than neutral cards. The neutral silver and gold cards contain some of the best cards in the game; Roach, King of Beggars, Geralt: Igni, and Yennefer: the Conjurer are seen through every level of competition. While giving strong cards to every deck evens the odds and can make balancing easier it is a dangerous path to take. High power neutral cards lessen the playability of faction specific cards, which endangers faction identity.
In my opinion, having unique factions and card design fitting to the Witcher lore is important for the game to thrive and expand. It draws in fans of The Witcher through familiarity, while providing a feeling of immersion for players both new and veteran to the franchise.
Creatures & Tribe-Tag´s
In the Witcher universe, most creatures and races can be slotted into one of the five existing Factions. The regions of Redania, Temeria and Kaedwin are combined in the Northern Realms faction, Dwarves and Elves join forces in Scoia´tael, and the Wild Hunt found its way into the Monster faction. Each card has to fit within the design of the faction it is created for, both in terms of lore and mechanics. Monster Cards for example have weaker units like Foglet and Nekker that individually are weak, but in groups are deadly. Stronger Monsters even in the Bronze slot have great base stats while maintaining their beastly flavor and lore.
All of the above mentioned races and region-based units are what we further on will refer to as “tribe“.
Tribe stems from “Tribal”, which is a keyword allowing a unit to synergize with other units of the same kind. Tribes are not to be confused with other directly game-impacting Tags like Resilience,Relentless, Fleeting and Permadeath. Dwarves and Elves are two such tribes that have been powerful throughout their time in Gwent, in large part due to their tribal synergies.
Currently, there are many unused tribal tags that contain huge potential in future card design for Gwent. Dryads, Mages and Vampires are tribes with strong presences in the Witcher lore. These tags are essential to the game because they embody the concept of faction identity. Visually, they are easily recognizable from their art. Fans of the Witcher universe will be able to identify many of them from their story ties and artwork. Mechanically, tribes are one of the strongest ways to create synergy within a faction. Tribal tags allow units and abilities to be above the normal power curve as long as they are used within the tribe. Mahakam Guard is a wonderful example for this situation. It provides above average stats for a bronze unit, but only when played within the Dwarves tribal archetype.
In The upcoming weeks we will cover this topic a bit more in depth for each faction individually and bring their faction-identity closer to you. Each faction has multiple archetypes that are tied together through several themes, with archetypes playing roles both big and small.
Faction-Identity #1: Introduction and explanation~ 02.05
Faction-Identity #2: Skellige ~ 09.05
Faction-Identity #3: Nilfgaard ~ 16.05
Faction-Identity #4:Northern Realms ~ 23.05
Faction-Identity #5: Scoia´tel ~30.05
Faction-Identity #6: Monster ~ 06.06