'The Witcher 3' Gwent Guide: Tips For Winning Skellige Tournament In 'Blood And Wine'

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone
The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone Photo: CD Projekt Red

The Witcher 3 continues to be my favorite game of the current console era, and not just because the Blood And Wine DLC is practically flawless. No, it is CD Projekt RED’s continued support of Gwent, that oh-so-addictive card game, which has my geeky parts all a-tingle. Setting aside the rumors of a full-on, possibly mobile version of Gwent expected at E3 , Gwent addicts should be thrilled about the new Skellige faction added to Gwent in the Blood and Wine DLC. It’s OK if you’re not. I wasn’t, at first, and felt especially salty about being forced to play the faction if I wanted to take part in the DLC’s sole Gwent tournament.

However, after taking the time to complete all the sidequests associated with finishing the Skellige deck (find merchant, win a game, repeat 15 times) and actually winning the tournament on my second try, I’ve come to love the new faction. I decided it might help assuage the fears of some of my fellow Gwent freaks if I offered some tips about how to get through the tourney and make the most of the new Skellige faction.

The most important card in the Skellige strategy is Cerys . A 10-power hero card with a ‘summon shield maidens’ perk you’ll find at the inn in Flovive. I had three shield maidens in my my deck. So when I play Cerys they drop for a total of 36, plus the 10 from Cerys. I found this to be a solid opening move, which scares off most opponents, especially if coupled with Skellige storm (puts a weather effect on the ranged and siege tiers). For lack of any official terminology, I call this strategy power bluffing.

Power bluffing the first round was crucial to my success in the tournament, as the Skellige perk is fantastic for late game play. The perk kicks in during the third and final round of a game by adding two random cards from the graveyard to the board, which can be huge given that many opponents will use almost every card they have to try to win that second round (especially if you power bluffed the first). I won most of my games in the third round because of this.

Plus, and this may just be me reading way too much into the AI, it felt like my opponents weren’t too familiar with the Skellige deck perk. They would frequently use every card in the second round even though a win would still force a third where the Skellige perk always gave me the win. This poor play is in line with the story, as the Skellige faction is presented as a brand new faction in need of a legitimate tourney run. So it stands to reason your opponents would be rather unfamiliar with its play style.

I also found Olaf to be a critical card for success. He’s a big ol’ bear that can play close combat or ranged, has 12 power, and provides a +1 Morale boost to all cards in the row you’ll get from an innkeeper near the Gran Palace signpost. He worked well alongside Cerys, providing a lot of power in the second round after I used her in the first. Of course, if you can pair him with Cerys, plus the shield maidens on a row that has a 2X buff from a commander’s horn or Dandelion card, well, that’s basically all the points you’ll ever need.

I had been previously playing a lot of Northern Realms, and really emphasized spy cards (the eyeball-icon guys that let you draw two). I ran a deck with three of those, plus three decoys, and did a lot of card dropping to mill my deck. The Skellige deck doesn’t allow for much spying (although the mysterious elf is great if you have one) but I found using decoys to drop cards multiple times to trigger their effects was useful, too. If you’ve got a Clan Dimun Pirate, which has scorch, you can drop it a second time to scorch another enemy (or multiple enemies). Same with Villentretenmerth .

That’s pretty much it. Just finish the Skellige deck side quests to complete the deck, reload your save if you don’t get Cerys on the draw and play to win the first and third rounds. Follow these tips and you should have no problem crushing the Blood and Wine Gwent tournament. You’ll pick up a nifty sword, 1000 gold and a sweet ass trophy for your new house to boot. And when it’s all done and you feel that sinking feeling of not having any furious Gwent action on the horizon, just remember E3 is right around the corner and we’re expecting some big Gwent news.

Stoked for a Gwent app? Love the Skellige faction? Need a 12-step Gwent recovery program? Let us know in the comments!

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