Man, I don't know what to think of Gwent: Homecoming (which is what they're calling the full release patch - it's out of beta now!).
Like, it's so different! And it makes me wonder: what was the point of patching and patching and patching that beta, re-re-re-balancing everything so many times, if for the final game they were just going to basically wipe the slate clean and start from scratch? I barely recognize the game, and not just because of the improved graphics and UI (which is pretty sweet - the new 4-lane board looks awesome, and the amazing artwork is on full display, as big as possible). Every single card is completely different now, and there are lots of new rules and card abilities. It's actually a little closer to Hearthstone now in a few small ways. Many cards can attack every turn or so, and you can only have 10 cards in your hand at once, much like in HS. The "2 out of 3 rounds" victory condition is still here, but they've tried to fix the coin toss issue - the player who goes second now has a "tactical advantage" card on the board to buff a unit by 6 or something. Silver quality cards are gone - everything is either Gold or Bronze now, and each card has a "resources" cost, with your deck having a maximum amount of resources. Your leader card is represented by a fully 3D little dude standing off to the side, and they can usually use their hero power more than once (again, closer to Hearthstone).
I was prepared to have my collection wiped, but I was still surprised they did it, since the beta had plenty of real-money purchase options, and who knows how much dough some players spent. I had almost every single card before I lost everything, but they did give me a LOT of scraps to rebuild with - any card I need, I should be able to craft for a long time in the future. Which is good, because I can't seem to make a good deck to save my life! I'm sucking hard at this game right now, and there are no good websites to netdeck anymore, since GwentDB decided to close its doors. Every player I run against seems to have the perfect strategy all laid out, even at my low rank. And here I am fumbling to understand the new system, making mistakes and completely screwing myself over, often by round 2.
Honestly, I think my favorite iteration of Gwent was the patch that added the Create function, even though that was very unpopular at the time because it added so much RNG factor. But the game needs a little bit of randomness! I don't think they should go full Hearthstone, but it's occasionally fun to simply get lucky. Plus I had an amazing elves deck at the time that was really fun. I think I'll have more fun in nuGwent once I get a really nice Scoia'tael tactic laid out...
As for Thronebreaker, it's really good so far. I probably should play through it completely before I go back to regular Gwent, since I've already unlocked a couple Gwent cards with it. The gameplay of Thronebreaker reminds me a lot of Banner Saga (I still need to finish the sequels to that...) except less linear. You control Queen Meve of Lyria and Rivia, as she seeks to bring law and order back to her kingdom after leaving it in the hands of her young and inexperienced son while she was away for a time. You walk around the overland map, gather resources, spend them on cards and upgrades in your camp, make choices in dialogue screens, and play through a story in the Witcher universe. It's really neat so far, and I've barely scratched the surface. I'm still not a fan of "puzzle" challenges though, which every card game seems to have in their single player portions - where they give you a pre-determined deck and challenge you to find just the right solution to a board. They're kinda fun when you solve them, but they can be kind of frustrating and I would really rather just play the normal game with my own deck.
I can already tell there will be some fun and interesting twists ahead in the Thronebreaker story, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. Nobody spoil it for me!