Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

Great post.

Hmmm…I’ve been as skittish as a stock broker this Steam Sale, picking and then dumping games before buying. This one and Vampyr are pretty much the last ones on my list. This thread popped up at a really good time…

It also has an easy mode if one doesn’t care about the Gwent part so much.

That said, I started it and took a break, but there are monsters to kill out there, I’m sure I’ll come back to it in time even if it is mostly Gwent.

I think the easy mode even allows you to skip the battles.

Pulled the trigger on this and played about an hour so far. Voice acting is pretty solid and the graphics are simple but sharp.

I am pleasantly surprised about the card game. I thought I would be playing glorified hands of Gwent strung together by a loose story. But the card rounds merely abstract how battles would play out in the Witcher universe. For example, when I stumbled into a battle against ghouls, the battle didn’t play out like a round of euchre. Rather, the ghoul cards actually abstracted traits I would expect in a battle against ghouls (ie claw damage, unit regeneration through corpse eating etc).

There is some tactical depth to the game as well. Card placement matters and you can direct attacks against specific enemy cards. There is a lot going on and it will take a while to figure out how each card works. The tutorial is helpful though.

Still early days for me though so my initial impressions may change. But is great to dive into a new Witcher experience and I am even thinking of diving into the Witcher 3 again. Never did try out that NG+ mode…

At about 11 hours in, I’m going to be shelving this.

The writing isn’t anything special. I mean, there’s a story. The twists so far seem entirely predictable, and I just have no interest in any of the characters except maybe Meve. The fake old-timey grammar is just incredibly grating. I could maybe respect it as a stylistic choice if it was at least consistent. But it’s so random that it’s hard to consider it anything but sloppy.

Also, just like with Pyre, it just feels very hard for me to connect with the visual novel style of storytelling.

On the gameplay side:

  • This might be the buggiest game I’ve played in a year. My favorite one is maybe how you have all these puzzle Gwent battles that are all about figuring out the one proper sequencing of plays given the resources you have. But whatever you do, don’t look at the deck in a puzzle battle. Because it’ll break all the deck-based powers, making it unsolvable. Or the final straw for me: insane levels of stuttering, which seem to be getting worse as the game continues. Any part of the game can just go to 5-10 fps mode for a few seconds at any time for no obvious reason; or the whole game including even the mouse cursor will just freeze for 5-10 seconds, making you think the game has crashed.
  • The map exploration part of the game is no fun, but takes a lot of time and seems to be basically mandatory given the scarcity of resources. I really love how getting faster movement speeds on the map is gated behind the same upgrade system as the economic / combat upgrades. Do you want better cards, or do you want to waste less time walking around the map?
  • I liked the original Gwent. This feels nothing like it, with far more emphasis on instant damage. Also, the comparison to the systems of Slay the Spire or Artifact is not very flattering to Gwent.

I might return if the technical issues get solved with a future patch. But probably not even then, since the story isn’t grabbing me.

I also had the stuttering problem in the end part, it wasn’t in the 1.0 version :(

I laughed, then I cried.

I’ve gone back and forth on this game for weeks. Due to the long length of one playthrough, I’m going to forget about it for now. I’ll revisit it later this year.

I think the thronebreaker could be better as after the hype it built around its release didnt meet my expectations personally.


Allow me to do a silly comparison.

Thronebreaker is a

-single player game where battles are fought with cards
-you can gain new cards and even upgrade them during the game
-playing cards willy nilly will get yo nowhere, the game is geared toward synergies and combos, you have to deckbuild for it

Slay the Spire is a

-single player game where battles are fought with cards
-you can gain new cards and even upgrade them during the game
-playing cards willy nilly will get yo nowhere, the game is geared toward synergies and combos, you have to deckbuild for it

Both have a similar price, in the 20-30€ range.

So it can seem curious that one received mediocre sales, and the other sold more than one million copies.

The key, of course, is in the things they don’t look like the other.

Cd Projekt strength as a company is in the story and characters, in the narrative aspect, so they decided to do a single player story with cards. It makes sense to try to use your own strengths, but in hindsight, Slay the Spire formula is much better.

Slay the Spire on the other hand don’t have a story (the few lines hidden here and there are more like lore than story), and instead focused on the gameplay, very well balanced and varied. And that’s is a formula to success, because I would say the audience of card games are very ‘gameplay-first’ geeks.
The game itself is a quick, very random, replayable roguelike, instead of a long not-so-replayable story, so the game itself is geared perfectly towards a card game. Most card games are random, you can of course influence that randomness, but it’s an important factor. Every hand can be different, every time you can make a different deck, this type of game borrows himself perfectly to the roguelite template.

I admire your persistence in reminding us that this game exists @TurinTur.

Well, that was more a “what they did wrong” post than a “buy this game” post.

I forgot I bought this during the winter sale!


I dunno where I plan to fit it in.

Good breakdown. Lately I gravitate toward games that are easy to pick up but have a lot of depth — either in case I want to get into it, or at least knowing it exists. It makes me feel like I’m playing a worthy game.

The reason I hesitate on Spire is I want games that are easy to stop playing whenever I want. So multiplayer and endless roguelikes are usually too risky.

Plus I still dislike the art style, but that’s for the other thread.

It’s easy enough to stop a run at any time and continue later. Also, each level is a natural stopping point. It is a nice game to play when you don’t have a lot of time but also good enough you can play for several hours (at least in the beginning).

Yeah we had this discussion before in the context of Paradox strategy games. Mechanically, you could stop pretty easily. But the game is addictive enough that it’s tough. All the addicts are testament to that.

This goes beyond my initial post, and it should go to the Spire thread, but I suspect the high randomness of the game has contributed to its success. I guess some fans will negate it saying how good the player is what it matters, but in addition there also is a bit of ‘slot machine effect’ on it, as there are some high luck streaks and some low luck runs, and that randomness contributes to the addictive feeling, as with a slot machine.

I’m finally playing through the W3 expansions and at the same time started on Thronebreaker. Its a bit confusing switching between the 2 different Gwent mechanics. Not sure I like the changes that they’ve introduced in TB. (or was it in the Gwent game? I never played the early access version…)

I’ve been playing this a fair bit the past few week s and have been enjoying it more and more as I get deeper in.

I do think they made a bit of a design error in how long they made the initial map and making map walking speed an upgrade you need to buy though. The first few hours is pretty slow.

Also, I gotta say that some of the puzzle battles are pretty unique and entertaining. I just did the one that was a homage of Hearthstone, which was pretty cool