Gwent's game board has two rows per player, which adds a tactical feel to the digital card game genre. In this lesson, the row system and how to use it to your advantage will be discussed.
Each player has a Melee row and a Ranged row. The Melee rows meet in the middle of the game board, while your Ranged row appears closest to you and your opponent's Ranged row is the one farthest away. They are also marked by a row icon at the right side of the battlefield: A sword for the Melee and a crossbow for the Ranged row.
If both of your rows are full, left-clicking a unit or artifact in your hand will manually Discard, that is move to the graveyard, it right away. Special cards can still be played, even if they Summon units to the board. If cards Spawn and Summon units to a row, they will do so until the row limit is hit. For example, playing Germain Piquant on a row with seven cards in it will grant you just one Cow (Germain is the eighth card, and the one Cow is the ninth, reaching the row limit).
Of course units and artifacts can leave the game board as well: Your opponent can destroy them, of course, to open up a slot, but you can also Consume a unit or move one. The end of a round clears the game board as well.
Certain cards have different effects depending on where they are placed. For example, Yennefer of Vengerberg is almost like two cards in one.
Other cards simply have no effect if they're on the "wrong" row. You could play Geralt: Igni on the Ranged row, but its Deploy ability won't happen at all! A warning will appear if you try to play a card with such an effect in the wrong row. You can disable it in the game options. Make sure you know which row is best for each of your cards, and plan ahead so you don't run out of room.
Row effects are exactly what they sound like: They create an effect on a specific row. Row effects most often come from units or special cards. For example, the Deploy ability on Geralt: Yrden will reset all units on a row, while Impenetrable Fog damages the highest unit on a row by 2 for four turns.
If a row is affected by a lingering row effect, you can hover over the row icon to learn more.
Some cards like Strays of Spalla can move units from one row to the other. A unit will always be moved to the rightmost place on the new row.
This has several uses. If you apply Impenetrable Fog to the opponent's Melee row and the opponent doesn’t put any units there, a movement effect can pull one of your opponent’s unit right into the fog. Movement can also get your units out of danger and can be used to interrupt rowlocked abilities of cards, such as Reinforced Trebuchet.
Moving units between rows can set up later plays worth many points. For example, moving all the opponent's highest units to a single row can set up a devastating Geralt: Igni or Lacerate. Of course, a wise opponent will make counterplays, and a whole round can center on one player trying to set up Igni and the other fighting against it.
Gwent's row system adds a tactical element to an already complex digital card game. Make sure you know where to place your cards, use movement to set up future plays and think about what your opponent might be doing to stop your plan. Good luck, and have fun!