Master Mirror is on our wall

Unless you ignore Gwent’s ESRB-rating you are probably too old for fairy tales, but let us have a go at it nonetheless:

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
In our case it is not Snow White, as Scoia’tael has way more than just seven dwarves. Instead we have a guy playing flute to lure in his victims – and yet it is not the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but Master Mirror Gaunter O’Dimm. But all fairy tales aside, let us have a look at the new Gwent expansion: Master Mirror, just like we did it with Iron Judgment.

You can click the card names to see their premium versions.
All card art and premiums were taken from The Voice of Gwent.

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The Season of Leek

While June technically marks the Season of Magic, we also got a whole month of finest leeks on top. Unlike the Merchants of Ofir expansion which came as a complete surprise, this expansion had a whole month to build up the hype: Almost every day, CDPR or Gwent Partners leeked a new card to the community by various means. We got to share a card as well and while we enjoyed writing about it, seeing all the different means of presentation really added to a pleasant season of leek. From forum posts, to live premiers to social media messages – but my favourite reveal is still this video back then from the Crimson Curse expansion. Such an effort and so nicely done! I could not stop giggling after the Pitfall Trap jump. Another great one was the combo reveal of Smoke Them Out! and Volunteer done by  Mike Esteban  and Jamedi. Two aspects of one card leeked by two friends? I really like that idea!

But back to this expansion’s Season of Leek: It was nice to have a leek-routine.
Every morning check whose turn it is to reveal, wait for the reveals to come over the course of the day, have a discussion on Discord about its artwork and effect and finally at 7PM CEST visit the updated reveal website to learn about their flavour text. And those flavour text were sometimes yet another surprise like the tragic interaction between Tuirseach Invader and Drummond Villager –which was obvious after some hours after the initial reveal have passed. Last but not least: The Evolving cards and their reveal video each week presented by our lovely host Gaunter O’Dimm.

The Man of Glass

The VIP of this expansion. Not only did he get a new card, but his performance in those reveal videos… It’s hard to resist his smile and canny voice, even when your soul is on the line. But I better don’t sell my soul to him. As a demon cat, Easha is in the same business and not happy about the competition.

Gaunter does not only make his appearance in the reveal videos, he is also more or less obviously hidden in several other cards’ artworks:
He is the one whispering into Usurper Officer’s ear. Perhaps a gently little reminder, how unsuited Fergus is as an emperor to wake aspirations of power? It is hard guessing the intentions of a nearly omnipotent being. Was it kindness to gift some toys to Jaques Miraculous Child, or was he just watching the child playing to observe him becoming something greater? You can tell it is Gaunter by his clothes.

His next dubious project is an outright crime: He is overseeing the drug Smuggle in dead bodies. Do you really need yet another reason why you should do your soul business with me instead of such a shady person? If you do: Gaunter is also the insurgent behind Reddit Angry Mob. Look at the rightmost person smiling as the chaos unfolds. At least as Kerack Marine he seems to do some honest work, even though he might be the very reason why they were mobilised in the first place, as this is not his only plot in Kerack’s politics: If you look closely into the (Master) Mirror at Ildiko’s card art, those are likely Gaunter’s hands presenting the necklace to her. Why I would not say No to such a pretty necklace, you better be careful when it comes to accepting a gift from him. Better read our series on jewellery in Gwent instead.
And now let me fetch you a contract for a Pact to forfeit your soul to me and not him. You just need to sign here, here and here.

Evolving cards

The new card type adds yet another interesting layer to the gameplay, but  their art is what makes them truly outstanding for me. It is character development, plot twists, an entire fate condensed into just three pictures. Using Eithné’s evolving card as example:

The first artwork (Eithné Young Queen) is a representative one: Eithné fulfilling her duties of leading a ritual as dryad queen.
The second one (Eithné Mother) in contrast to it depicts a very personal moment between Eithné and her daughter Morenn. While Morenn is a joyful child, her mother’s mimic is hard to read. She seems contend, yet somewhat sad. Perhaps she is just exhausted from her duties. Please take a moment to have a look at Morenn’s armlets, because they will become relevant to the third picture:

In the last phase (Eithné Wrath of the Brokilon) you can see Eithné mourn her dead daughter, still holding  the aforementioned  bracelet in her hand as this is all she has left of Morenn, as according to the flavour text her daughter’s body is in such a bad condition even Eithné were no longer able to recognize her. You can hear the dryad queen crying in the first few moments of the premium animation, but afterwards you have yet another evolution as her sorrow turns into anger; hatred even, and revenge. The forest around her reacts accordingly and gives those feelings a physical form. While dryads are able to shape trees at will, Eithné’s emotional outburst still has this effect even though she probably does not do it consciously.

While I also appreciate their art, I am a tiny little disappointed about a missed opportunity regarding evolving cards. Let me show you what I mean:

You had one job, CDPR! Novigrad even has an arena, although I doubt Whoreson Junior or Igor the Hook will award you a gym badge. And even if they did, you still need seven more to become the Viziman Champion.

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Plenty of gorgeous artworks, shiny new toys and strategies… We needed to stop ourselves from playing the new expansion and finally get to work on this article. If you would excuse us now? Now that we are done writing, we can jump right back into the game. See you on the battlefield!

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