It’s time to duel-yst! Duelyst is one of the latest digital trading card games, developed and published by Counterplay Games. This game was forged through the use of backers via Kickstarter and tries to set itself apart from digital card game behemoth, Hearthstone. As a self-proclaimed trading card game veteran, the unique tactics mechanic of Duelyst has definitely caught my attending. Trading card games have come and gone in the past, can Duelyst produce a formula to hang in there for the long run?
The gameplay in Duelyst is similar to that of Hearthstone. There are six factions to choose from, with different Generals for each faction which will dictate your playstyle. From there, you do battle with your opponent with the goal being to eliminate your enemy’s General. Meanwhile, you are presented with various Minions, Spells, and Artifacts (equipment for your General) to battle with. There are also various mechanics such as Backstab, Provoke, and Flying that will be essential to your victory.
“All-in-all, Duelyst is a high quality, collectible strategy card game.”
The interesting mechanic that sets Duelyst apart from the rest, is the “tactics” aspect of the game, where you are required to move your Minions and Generals on a board, bringing mobility, spacing, and an extra bit of strategy to the game. The games are also short, lasting under 10 minutes per match, leading to fast-paced and interesting games. It was also found that lucky draws can have a big impact in the game, allowing players with “worse” cards to win at times as well. Despite luck being a factor in the game, game knowledge and skill are required to consistently perform well. These points allow Duelyst to remain interesting and fresh for players of all skill levels.
The game provides you with four main gameplay modes: Practice, Season Ladder, Solo Challenges, and Gauntlet. Practice is essentially a game against a very weak AI; unfortunately, this mode did not inspire any confidence in its ability to make you a better player. Season Ladder is where you do battle with other players in a ranked format, being matched up with players in the same tier (an unranked mode is unavailable at this time). Solo Challenges are a series of challenges in which you are required to make use of various abilities in order to defeat enemy Generals in one turn. This is essentially the game’s tutorial mode where understanding different game mechanics is required to complete the challenges. Lastly, The Gauntlet is the draft mode of Duelyst, where you are continually presented with a choice of three cards until you reach the 40-card limit before doing battle with the deck.
The various modes of Duelyst will appeal to different crowds. In addition to the Solo Challenges, there are also Daily Challenges which are of varying difficulty and are very entertaining. The Daily Challenges provide interesting scenarios that are thought-provoking, fair, and enjoyable. In fact, the Daily Challenges have constantly made this reviewer sign in simply for them, and subsequently stayed to play a few matches as well. Both “Challenges” modes have really made Duelyst shine, perhaps moreso than the competitive aspect of the game.
The challenges in this game provide you with in-game currency to purchase orbs (card packs). There are also daily missions, win bonuses, return bonuses (for players who missed a day), and two win bonuses to earn this currency. This reward system works somewhat better than others as you are able to purchase more orbs with in-game currency. Because of this, new players should be able to begin building quality decks at a faster rate.
There is also a Codex within the game that presents the story and lore behind Duelyst. The story is unnecessary for the game, but provides some decent information for interested players. The Codex section starts off seemingly uninspired but provides more interesting details as it continues. The game could incorporate the story more into the gameplay, perhaps by integrating tidbits of information about your faction as the game loads.
The graphics in the game are superb, featuring high-quality, pixelated models that look satisfying. The corresponding animations for the models are also excellent. Furthermore, the background art and game boards look great. However, the General drawings and portrait feel somewhat cartoonish and out of place when compared to the rest of the game. Besides that, Duelyst features a unique art direction that helps to set itself apart from similar games.
Much like the graphics, the sound in Duelyst is of high quality and appropriate for this game. The sound effects correspond to their actions superbly and the music fits the tone of the game. One criticism with regards to the music is that the default setting has the music set too low to truly appreciate it. It is recommended to increase the music’s volume for maximum enjoyment.
“Duelyst does not have the luxury of having a giant fan base at launch like other popular card games, so continual word-of-mouth and high quality updates will be required to keep the game afloat.”
All-in-all, Duelyst is a high quality, collectible strategy card game. With sound gameplay mechanics, intriguing challenges, and high quality graphics and sound, Duelyst has the potential to be a mainstay in the digital card game genre. The only potential issue that Duelyst may run into is a potentially declining player base. Duelyst does not have the luxury of having a giant fan base at launch like other popular card games, so continual word-of-mouth and high quality updates will be required to keep the game afloat. Certainly though, the game’s daily challenges and fast-paced gameplay will keep this reviewer entertained for some time.
**Orbs were provided by the developer for the reviewer to experience deck building**
- Tactical elements add more strategy
- Fun challenges to learn mechanics
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Bad AI for practice matches