Consider finishing the Old Pals and Big City Players quests to build a stronger deck before doing this quest. You will not have an opportunity to leave the area and strengthen your deck once you sign up for the tournament; if you stray too far from the Passiflora, the quest will fail. Although winning these matches is not required to complete this quest, it is the only way to obtain certain leader cards.
Read the notice on the notice board near St. Gregory's Bridge in Novigrad to begin the quest. Head to the Passiflora and speak to the scribe to enter the tournament. After the Passiflora is cleared of its regular guests, Geralt has an opportunity to speak with some of the other tournament participants, notably Sasha. From there, the tournament begins.
Note: You do not have to win the tournament, or any of the matches, to complete the quest. If you lose at any point in the tournament, but agree to help Sasha, the tournament will skip to the end of the final round.
First thing you should know is that there are no rules against changing your deck during the tournament, so you are free to play a different deck each round including the Skellige Gwent deck if you have it. As a result you are free to use any and all strategies against every opponent.
He uses the Northern Realms Gwent deck and ironically uses Foltest: The Steel-Forged as the leader card, it's ironic because the card is most effective against the Northern Realms deck, as it relies the most on siege cards and this card causes the scorch effect on the opponents siege usits when activated. So if you favor the Northern Realms deck yourself this may turn out to be a tough game for you, especially if you rely on Foltest: The Siegemaster. If you have the Hearts of Stone expansion then you can play Foltest: Son of Medell to make the game more even. A good idea is the play a dupe strategy by using your Catapult as a shield instead of primary source of strength points, then if it is destroyed with a scorch effect play the other one in order to protect your remaining siege units. Another strategy is to rely on all your rows rather than just siege.
Alternatively you can play the Nilfgaardian Empire Gwent deck, in fact in most cases it will work better as while Northern Realms is strong it is very susceptible to scorch effects and can only have up to 2 medic cards, while Nilfgaardian Empire can have up to 5. Thus you can easily overwhelm him by being able to draw more cards than him by reusing his and your own spy cards.
Sasha is easily the toughest opponent in the tournament, if not the entire game. She plays the Nilfgaardian Empire deck and she relies heavily on spy cards, using her decoys and medics to use them as much as possible, though she has no weather cards. Her leader card is Emhyr var Emreis: The Relentless which she will use to reuse a spy card as well. The best idea is to beat her at her own game and play Nilfgaardian Empire deck as well. Select Emhyr var Emreis: The White Flame as your leader card as that will disable her own leader card thus evening the playing field. Your deck should also contain exactly 34 cards, as if you maxed out your own decoys and medics to reuse spy cards you will be able to draw up to 24 more cards during the match - 8 for the 4 spies you can play, 6 for the 3 decoys and 10 more for 5 medics.
If you have a leader card that acts as a Commander's Horn, and you have 3 in your deck, you can use the following strategy if you're really struggling, not however, that although it seems guaranteed to work, it requires you draw all three horns, so it is best used as a backup.
Do not play the horns in your first round and make sure you save a moderately strong card for later, other than that, try to win the first round.
The second hand is what matters most. Use your leader card first, then fill the other two rows with horns. This should leave you with one horn left. Keep attempting to play it even though there's nowhere to do so. Sasha will use the rest of her cards and you will not pass your turn. When she has played all of her cards, cede the round. Round three will leave her empty, and you can win with whatever card(s) you stowed away as backup.
Hearts of Stone expansion strategy:
For this strategy you will be playing the Monsters Gwent deck and you must have the Eredin Bréacc Glas: The Treacherous as your leader card. This card doubles the strength of all spy cards, however, this effect can be doubled further using a Commander's Horn. This uses her spy strategy against her, as when she plays all 3 of her spies with a Commander's Horn on your close combat row it will give you 80 strength points while also protect your muster cards against her scorch effects.
Pack your deck with all your Muster cards, all 3 Commander Horn's, Dandelion (if you draw him, play him in the first round as he may get carried over to the next round), all 3 scorch cards (if you have the Blood and Wine expansion too you can instead use Skellige Storm if you already have them), then remove your decoys as you will not be using them to reuse her spies. Other cards you should be using are the Kayran, the Olgierd von Everec card, and the Mysterious Elf card. However, be sure to use it after you have played all the muster cards you managed to draw so you don't draw duplicates.
As soon as the round starts play a Commander's Horn in the close combat row then play your Vampire muster cards, unless Sasha already played a spy then you can choose another set as the spy will protect it from scorch effects. Beware Sasha may attempt to scorch the Dandelion card, so make sure there's a higher value on the board before you play him.
Finneas and Count Tybalt
Geralt's first opponent is Bernard Tulle, who uses a Northern Realms deck. Regardless of whether Geralt wins or loses his match with Tulle, Sasha will approach Geralt after the match and suggest that they work together to get the prize money. She does not provide any details regarding her plan, and instead only tells him that he should stay until the end of the tournament. Geralt should agree for the best results, and the tournament will resume.
If you defeated Tulle, your next opponent will be Sasha, though if you declined her offer and you lose, the quest will fail. If you defeat her, you will move immediately to the next round where you will face Finneas, who uses a Scoia'tael deck.
If you beat him, he will be enraged and engage you in a fist fight. Defeat him and move on to the final round of the tournament.
Note: There is no opportunity to manually save your game in between these two opponents, however, the game does generate an autosave. The most recent one will be immediately before the fist fight, so be prepared when it loads.
Your final opponent will be Count Tybalt, who uses a strong Monster deck, as well as torrential downfall (siege row).
To Catch a Thief
When the final match ends, regardless of who wins, the scribe will announce that the prize money has been stolen. Sasha assures Geralt that she was not the thief, and that they should work together to reclaim the prize money. She talks their way past the guard and up to the second floor. Use your witcher senses to inspect the crime scene. Examine a bolt on the terrance and then head outside to look for more clues. Follow the strange scent to a crate on the road. Sasha recognizes the guild seal on the on the crate, and tells Geralt to meet her at a warehouse on the docks.
Once at the warehouse, Sasha tells Geralt that the door is locked. Go to the back of the warehouse to find another way in. Along the way, Geralt will spot the wagon used by the thieves and note that it has the same scent. Climb up the wooden scaffolding at the rear of the building, and enter the warehouse through the window. Approach the group of men to find the thief, Bernard Tulle. After a short conversation, you will have to fight Tulle and his henchmen.
After defeating Tulle, Sasha invites Geralt to dinner at the Kingfisher. You can either decline, which completes the quest, or accept the invitation, which provides you the opportunity to romance Sasha. If you romance her, she will leave Geralt while he is asleep, and leave him a note on the pillow. The quest concludes, and you receive 45 XP and 4500 .
- Geralt is hardly an ace gambler. He has had a few good runs in dice poker tournaments, true, but these were always local affairs against opponents whose skill level left much to be desired. A tournament in the world's greatest metropolis - now that was a horse of an entirely different color. The high entry fee and stringent deck requirements scared off amateurs, so only wealthy professionals had signed up. Everything was in place for play at a high level in exciting company - in other words, my friends, for pure pleasure.
- It started with an indecent proposal. Sasha, one of the participants in the tournament, made Geralt a proposition so brazen even his jaded jaw dropped: together they were to steal the coin set aside as the tournament's prize.
- Perhaps Geralt would even have been tempted by Sasha's proposition. Before he could accept or reject it, however, another double dealer made his presence known. While they were talking one of the participants stole the coin set aside for the reward, beating Sasha to the punch.
- A halfling by the name of Bernard turned out to be the thief. This supposed farmer took the coin and hid with it in one of the city's warehouses. The witcher raced after him and defeated him in a final showdown.
- As for Sasha, she turned out to be a Nilfgaardian agent known as Cantarella. Her cover blown, she had needed the coin so that she could skip town. As part of my duties as a chronicler I must note that before she left, she spent a night with the witcher, conducting various covert operations until the break of dawn.
- If Geralt loses (or draws) to an opponent:
- Yet Geralt did not manage to garner the tournament's grand prize. Such is life - you can't win them all, sadly. Geralt could only hope luck's cruelty at cards meant she would shower him with good fortune when it came to love.
- Find the scribe in the Passiflora and sign up for the high-stakes tournament.
- Talk to the scribe.
- Mingle with the other contestants.
- Win your match against Bernard Tulle.
- Meet Sasha on the balcony.
- Return to the common room.
- Win against Sasha.
- Win against Finneas.
- Defeat Finneas.
- Win against Count Tybalt.
- Follow the guard to the crime scene.
- Investigate the crime scene using your Witcher Senses.
- Check for clues behind the brothel using your Witcher Senses.
- Use your Witcher Senses to see where the scent leads to.
- Meet Sasha at the warehouse.
- Find a way to get into the warehouse.
- Climb up into the warehouse.
- Check what's going on.
- Defeat Bernard and his goons.
- If you play against Sasha with your own Nilfgaardian Empire Gwent deck and go blow for blow using Spies and then, Decoys and Medics to reuse and/or revive the Spies you may reach a point where you, she or both of you run out of cards from your respective decks.
- The quest follows a somewhat different course if you refuse Sasha's scheme or lose a round at Gwent, but since those both lead to sub-par rewards, they should be discounted as less than ideal ways to complete this quest, and are not worthy of mention.
- The quest Geralt is telling Sasha about, during their dinner date, is the quest "Blue Eyes" from The Witcher. A member of the Order of the Flaming Rose (a militant branch of the cult of the Eternal Fire) asked you to look for his sister, who had taken up working at a brothel run by vampires.
- If you beat every opponent in the tournament, you will also receive the achievement Gwent Master.
- If you complete this quest after finishing A Matter of Life and Death but before Now or Never, dining with Sasha will cause you to be stuck inside the Kingfisher Inn and the only way to leave is by jumping from a balcony.
- Accepting Sasha's proposition at the end of the quest will not have any impact on your romance options with Triss or Yennefer.