There was always something intriguing to me about Cahir Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach. He was everywhere when I tried my hand at Gwent in The Witcher 3 in 2015. Shopkeepers, guards, soldiers, and townsfolk alike used Cahir's Gwent card to pummel my puny Northern Realms deck into the ground, but I never knew anything about this mysterious force on a piece of paper.
That is, until The Witcher premiered on Netflix last month. Actor Eamon Farron steps into the role of Cahir for Netflix's series, a villainous soldier working for the invading forces of Nilfgaard pushing north into enemy territory. Cahir acts as the primary antagonist in the eight episode season, a villain dedicated to hunting down Freya Allan's Ciri by any means necessary.
"Oh, it's that bastard!" I thought upon realizing just who Farron was portraying on screen. Thing is, Cahir never actually appears in CD Projekt Red's Witcher games. The only time you'll ever see his name flash up on screen is through his Gwent card, because the game trilogy takes place at least a decade after the Netflix series (and the first two books by Andrzej Sapkowski).
Gwent cards in The Witcher 3 very cleverly draw from the vast lore deposits of Sapkowski's novels. They act instead like a better version of Destiny's Grimoire cards: When you come across a character you've never heard of like Cahir, it makes you want to go and research them to see who they were and why they're famed in The Witcher universe.
I never knew anything about Cahir back in 2015. All I knew is that he was one of the most common Gwent cards in The Witcher 3, and I ended up utterly despising him. Early on in the massive game, the majority of opponents you'll play against in Gwent use the Nilfgaard faction deck—a deck that lives on in a certain infamy through its litany of spy cards that grant bonus cards to the player that uses them.
Like many, I hated playing against the Nilfgaard deck. It's an absolute slog to get your opponent down to one or two cards in their hand, only to find out that one of them was inevitably a spy card that they'd use to get more cards than you, and therefore the upper hand. Cahir's card was your opponent really twisting the knife—just after you'd think you'd beaten someone, they'd play Mawr Dyffryn aep Ceallach to snatch a victory from under your nose.
He seemed to be everywhere. Whenever I squared off against anyone in Gwent, they'd somehow always have Cahir, and he'd be one of the final cards they used to seal victory in a round. I hated seeing the Black Knight in Gwent, and when I eventually won him from a Gwent battle, I put him to the very bottom of my own Nilfgaard Gwent deck, never to be seen again.
Thanks to the Netflix series, I've now got a backstory to my most hated Gwent card. Cahir spends a whole lot of The Witcher moodily brooding against the lush backdrops of the Northern Realms, as he embarks on his mission to capture Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, A.K.A. Ciri. He's brutal in his pursuit of the Child of Destiny, at one point going so far as to employ a shapeshifting Doppler to disguise themselves as someone close to her.
It's not just Cahir that I've finally got context and backstory for thanks to the Netflix series. The mage Vilgefortz, played by Australian actor Mahesh Jadu, appears toward the end of the eight-episode run. He's another character who only ever appeared in CD Projekt Red's games through a Gwent card.
Vilgefortz is an extremely powerful wizard in Sapkowski's novels, able to render even Yennefer of Vengerburg helpless. In Gwent, he's another useful card for the Nilfgaard deck with the ability to destroy opposing units, with an intriguingly evil demeanor despite me never knowing anything about him. Now, I know he's a mage working with the Lodge of Sorceresses, or at least he was.
Netflix's adaptation excels at not just adapting Sapkowski's material, but also in creating its own stories. Cahir is a brutal antagonist, but Yennefer's new origin story rising up through the Lodge of Sorceresses to become a powerful enchantress is arguably one of the best things about the show. Yennefer's origins were always cryptic and vague, save from changing her appearance through magic, and the show grasped this air of mystery and built something empathetic and memorable. The show's details give Yennefer of Vengerburg the perfect backstory before she even appears for the first time in The Witcher 3.
It was a really pleasant surprise to get context for some infamous Gwent cards through Netflix's new show. Here's hoping The Witcher's second season will introduce even more characters that we never saw in the game trilogy.