In Gwent, there are three major types of cards: units, artifacts, and specials. This lesson will break down their similarities, their differences, and their uses.
You can tell which type a card is by looking in the top left corner. Units have a number, artefacts have a chalice symbol, and specials have a flame symbol.
Units are the most commonly played cards in Gwent decks. There is even a minimum unit limit of 13, a deck with fewer units is invalid and can’t be used. Each unit takes up one space in one row.
Each unit has a starting point value, the white number in the top left corner, which contributes to your score for the round. Units can be boosted (the number turns green) to raise their point value or damaged (the number turns red) to lower it. When a unit is at zero points, it leaves the game board and goes to the graveyard (unless it is Doomed).
Units also have a wide variety of keywords, abilities and tags, which you can learn more about in other lessons and the Aretuza Glossary.
Like units, artifacts go on the game board when played and stay there until they're destroyed or the round ends. Unlike units, artifacts don't have a point value and can't be removed from the game board by damaging them.
Because artifacts don't contribute points to your score, they must have other effects to justify their inclusion in a deck. Some artifacts have an Order ability, like the one on Ale of the Ancestors; others need a certain trigger, such as Black Blood, or have a Deploy ability, like Portal.
Specials, like artifacts, do not have a point value. Unlike artefacts, they never take up space on the game board. Once you play a special, it does whatever its text says and then goes directly to the graveyard (unless it is Doomed).
Certain strategies revolve around special cards. One notable special card, Shupe's Day Off, even requires that you play only one copy of each card: No duplicates allowed!
While only Tactical Advantage used to belong to this category, patch 5.0 Merchants of Ofir introduced new cards of that category. The player who has the disadvantage of going first starts with this card type and its Order ability which grants certain benefits as compensation. Once used, the card banishes itself from the board. Strategem is still a unique card type and the opponent is not meant to interact with it in any way. Therefore, the different category avoids such interactions with potential removal cards which only affect units, artefacts or specials.
Gwent's card types all have an important role to play. Units add points to your score. Artifacts stay on the game board and have useful effects. Specials provide a one-time effect that can change the course of a round. Strategems compensate for the disadvantage of going first with a one-time effect in Round 1.
Finding the right mix of units, artefacts, and specials plus choosing a Strategem is a crucial skill for building Gwent decks. Good luck on your path to mastery!